SILVER SPRING, MD.– With the clock winding down on the regular season, there’s still a lot in the air before the final buzzer sounds.
Only one of the eight playoff matchups have been decided with the No. 4 seed Boston Celtics playing the No. 5 seed Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference. Today’s games will decide the final seedings and matchups before the playoffs tip-off on Saturday.
In the Eastern Conference, it’s down to the Detroit Pistons and Charlotte Hornets for the coveted No. 8 seed now that the Miami Heat has been eliminated from playoff contention after the Pistons won their game against the Memphis Grizzlies. The Pistons, who currently occupy the No. 8, play a New York Knicks team that has the worst record in the NBA while the Hornets tip-off against an Orlando Magic team that’s been on fire, winning four of their last five games. After rallying from a 22-point deficit to beat the Grizzlies, the Pistons control their destiny, needing only a win against the lowly Knicks to secure their spot in the playoffs. The Hornets would need a win against the Magic and a Detroit loss to steal the No. 8 seed from the Pistons.
In the West, it’s a battle for seeding as the top eight teams have already secured a spot in the playoffs. Paul George’s game winner for the Oklahoma City Thunder against the Houston Rockets put OKC a game ahead of the San Antonio Spurs in the No. 6 seed. Today the Thunder play against the Milwaukee Bucks and, with a win, would secure the No. 6 seed and avoid a second round matchup against the Golden State Warriors. The No. 2 seed Denver Nuggets loss to the No. 5 seed Utah Jazz create a three-way race in the top four, with the Denver Nuggets, No. 3 seed Houston Rockets, and No. 4 seed Portland Trail Blazers battling for the two and three seeds. A Nuggets loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves would move the Rockets to the No. 2, but if the Nuggets and Trail Blazers win their games the Rockets will slide to the fourth spot.
But tonight’s action will be significant not just for playoff seeding.
Two NBA legends will say farewell– Miami’s Dwyane Wade and Dallas’s Dirk Nowitzki both play their final games before retirement. Wade and Nowitzki both put up 30 points in emotional home victories last night and look to continue that success against the Brooklyn Nets and San Antonio Spurs, respectively.