A lot of teams are heading into the final day of the 2015-2016 NBA regular season without too much to play for. But there are those with some interest in their closing game. Like the Golden State Warriors, for obvious reasons. Like the Los Angeles Lakers, for Kobe Bryant reasons. Like the Houston Rockets & Utah Jazz, hoping to make it into the playoffs. And a few more, with less important things on their mind.
1. Golden State Warriors going for the record: This one is simple. The Warriors need to beat the Memphis Grizzlies in order to make it a 73-win regular season. That, if you haven’t been tuning in to the news or reading sports websites, will be a new record for regular season wins in a 82-game season, breaking the 72-10 record by the Chicago Bulls from the 1995-1996 season.
2. Kobe Bryant playing for the final time: There are a lot of potential finales on this day, but only in regular season terms. A lot of players possibly playing their final regular season game for their teams also have the playoffs. But not Bryant. A one-time MVP, two-time Finals MVP and five-time NBA champion isn’t going to the postseason. After breaking almost every possible record for the Los Angeles Lakers over the years, he’s going to play one final time, marking 20 NBA seasons and one remarkable, historic career, ending on the back of a number of forgettable seasons.
3. Playoffs: There’s one spot left in the Western conference to play for. The Houston Rockets control their own destiny, and will make the postseason if they beat the Sacramento Kings. A loss opens a door for the Utah Jazz, who’ll be playing at the Staples Center against the Los Angeles Lakers. We also have positional battles in both the West and East. The options are limitless for the 3-4-5-6 seeds in the East, with the Hawks and Heat battling for third, Celtics trying to finish fourth and the Charlotte Hornets possibly climbing up to fifth at most. In the West, it’s the 5-6-7 battle (which is an important one considering the San Antonio Spurs are awaiting at #2). Portland, Memphis and Dallas are involved in that one.
4. Coaches about to get fired: It’s hard to believe George Karl returns to coach the Sacramento Kings next season. But he won’t be the only one coaching for the final time on their current teams in this season finale. Randy Wittman in Washington, Byron Scott with the Lakers, Sam Mitchell in Minnesota, J.B. Bickerstaff in Houston (although he does have the playoffs), Tony Brown in Brooklyn and Earl Watson in Phoenix. The list might be longer when it’s all said and done.
5. Rose & Butler finale?: The Chicago Bulls can finish the season with 42 wins, but they won’t make the playoffs. This offseason, they’ll be making changes, and it won’t be too surprising to hear at some point that the backcourt tandem of Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler will get broken up this offseason, although it’s hard to see the Bulls moving Butler or finding someone willing to partner with them in a deal for Rose.