The NBA enters its final regular season day without any openings in both conferences to make the playoffs, but there are seeding battles left to play out: The Memphis Grizzlies and the Dallas Mavericks for who doesn’t play the Spurs; the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Los Angeles Clippers on who gets the #2 seed; and the Chicago Bulls against the Toronto Raptors on the battle for #3 seed in the East.
The biggest game of the night should be the one between Memphis and Dallas, as both teams don’t want to face San Antonio, with the winner taking the 7th place “prize,” if you can call it that. The NBA was probably hoping that the Spurs – Lakers game would mean something at this point, but it’ll be another demonstration of the Spurs’ depth and how bad the Lakers under D’Antoni are.
The top two spots are set: Miami Heat and the Indiana Pacers, while the Hawks will finish 8th, meaning we have one series (Atlanta vs Indiana we know will happen). The rest is up for grabs, with positional battles to look forward to on the final day.
The battle for third: The Chicago Bulls and the Toronto Raptors are going to have home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs, which makes this battle for 3rd and 4th not that important. The Raptors have the edge in the head to head, and they’re playing the Knicks in New York on the final day of the season. The Bulls are on the road as well against the Bobcats, who also have seeding to think of. In any case, the only the way for the Bulls to finish above the Raptors is for Chicago to win their game and the Raptors lose theirs.
5-6-7: The Brooklyn Nets, Charlotte Bobcats and Washington Wizards will finish above the Hawks and below the Bulls/Raptors. Right now the Nets are 5th, Wizards 6th and Bobcats 7th. The Nets will remain in the five seed if they win their remaining game against the Cavs, and will drop to sixth if they lose while the Wizards win their game. The Bobcats can move up to sixth if they win their game and the Wizards lose theirs against Boston, which will drop Washington to 7th.
We have the team that wins the conference, the San Antonio Spurs. We have our #4 and #5 teams, which means we have our first round series between the Blazers and the Rockets. The rest? Still up in the air.
Who’s on second: The Oklahoma City Thunder currently hold a one game lead over the Los Angeles Clippers, but the Clippers have a better conference record and will finish second if they beat Portland while OKC lose to the Detroit Pistons, playing in Oklahoma City. Any other combination will give the Thunder the #2 seed.
7th or 8th: The Dallas Mavericks and the Memphis Grizzlies have the identical 49-32 record which would have given them the #3 seed in the East. Crazy. The two teams play in Memphis to end the season, and although they’re both in the playoffs, I think both teams want to avoid the Spurs at this point. The winner gets to finish 7th and play OKC or the Clippers.