Your NBA Final Day Playoffs, play-in scenarios

By creating the play-in tournament, the NBA hoped to give meaning to end-of-season games — and it worked.

All 30 teams play on the last day of the season, and 10 of the 15 games carry at least some weight for the final standings and the playoffs or playoffs. Here’s the NBA standings, playoff scenarios, what to look out for, and games to watch on the final day of the season.


1. Miami Heat (53-28)
2. Milwaukee Bucks (51-30)
3. Boston Celtics (50-31)
4. Philadelphia 76ers (50-31)
5. Toronto Raptors (48-33)
6. Chicago Bulls (45-36)
7. Brooklyn Nets (43-38)
8. Cleveland Cavaliers (43-38)
9. Atlanta Hawks (42-39)
10. Charlotte Hornets (42-39)

Race for 2-3-4

Bucks at the Cavaliers (3:30 p.m.)
Celtics at Grizzlies (4:00 p.m.)
Pistons at 76ers (4:00 p.m.)

Miami has locked down the No. 1 seed in the East, and we know the Raptors will finish No. 5 and the Bulls will finish No. 6.

The Bucks can lock down the No. 2 seed with a win over the Cavaliers, but should seat Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, Brook Lopez, Bobby Portis, Grayson Allen and George Hill. The Cavaliers will face everyone because this game means a lot to them – win and they don’t finish below eighth place.

A loss in Milwaukee opens the door for Boston to be the No. 2 seed (and potentially face Brooklyn in the first round). If the Bucks lose and the Celtics beat the Grizzlies, Boston moves to the No. 2 seed. The Grizzlies are unlikely to face Ja Morant on the second night in a row – Saturday’s game was his first after missing nine games – but Memphis is 20-4 without him this season.

If the Celtics lose and the 76ers win, Philadelphia drops to the No. 3 seed and Boston drops to No. 4 and must face Toronto in the first round. It’s the motivation for the 76ers and Celtics to win their games.

Qualifying race

Pacers at the nets (3:30 p.m.)
Wizards at Hornets (3:30 p.m.)
Bucks at the Cavaliers (3:30 p.m.)
Hawks at Rockets (3:30 p.m.)

Nothing is set and 16 different scenarios can unfold depending on the results of these four matches. Here’s a rundown of the most likely outcomes, but if you want a full list, check out Schuyler Callihan’s work at FanNation.

If the Nets beat the Pacers, Brooklyn retains the No. 7 seed.

If the Cavaliers beat the Bucks (who are sitting on a lot of key players), they can’t finish below No. 8 and can move to No. 7 if the Nets lose.

The Hornets and Hawks can both crack the top eight — Atlanta can’t get past eighth, Charlotte can land anywhere between 7-10 — but they have to win and then need one of the teams above them to lose. In a scenario where the Nets lose and the Cavaliers and Hornets win (and the Hawks lose), the Nets could fall all the way to No. 9.

Atlanta has the tiebreaker over Charlotte and would host the first qualifying round game between them. However, a Hornets win and a Hawks loss would move this game to Charlotte (if the Cavaliers and Nets win to retain the top two spots).


1. Phoenix Suns (64-17)
2. Memphis Grizzlies (56-25)
3. Golden State Warriors (52-29)
4. Dallas Mavericks (51-30)
5. Utah Jazz (48-33)
6. Denver Nuggets (48-33)
7. Minnesota Timberwolves (46-35)
8. Los Angeles Clippers (41-40)
9. New Orleans Pelicans (36-45)
10. San Antonio Spurs (34-47)

Much more is exposed to the west. The Suns are the No. 1 seed and the No. 2 Grizzlies. The West’s play-in is also set, with the first games being the Timberwolves hosting the Clippers and the Pelicans hosting the Spurs.

Race for 3-4

Spurs at Mavericks (9:30 p.m.)
Warriors at Pelicans (9:30 p.m.)

If the Warriors win, they will be the No. 3 seed. A Golden State loss coupled with a Dallas win would move the Mavericks to the No. 3 seed (because Dallas has the tiebreaker, winning the season series 3-1).

Race for 5-6

Lakers at Nuggets (9:30 p.m.)
Jazz at the Trail Blazers (9:30 p.m.)

If the Jazz beat the Trail Blazers, Utah retains the No. 5 seed. Utah has the tiebreaker over Denver, having swept the season series.

Denver can move up to fifth with a win and a loss at Utah.

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