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Three Things to Know: Three must-watch games on final night of season

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Every weekday throughout the NBA season, we have given you the three things you need to know from the last 24 hours in the NBA. Today, for the last day of the regular season (and the last of the Three Things columns) we are looking ahead).

How insanely close has the NBA competition been this season? We head into the last night of the regular season with zero playoff matchups set. Not one. The top couple teams in each conference are locked into their spots, but below them the ground is still shifting. Nothing is settled. Our old friend Matt Moore (now with the Action Sports Network) has been tracking the playoff tiebreaks and outcome with a religious fervor, and this Tweet sums up just how much is still on the line in the West.

With all that said, here are the three games you need to watch Wednesday night:

1) Denver at Minnesota: Win and you’re in. This is Game 7. Or an MLB Wild Card play-in game. Or an NCAA Tournament game. It’s this simple: Minnesota and Denver are tied for the 8/9 seeds in the West at 46-35, and they play tonight at the Target Center. Winner is in the playoffs. Loser can make a tee time for whenever they want tomorrow.

(By the way, the winner is not automatically going to be the eight seed and chum in the first round for the Rockets. If Denver wins it cannot finish eighth — due to tiebreakers — and will be either the six or seven seed. If Minnesota wins it can be anywhere from 6-8 depending upon other games.)

It’s essentially a home game seven for Minnesota, and home teams have a huge advantage in Game 7s. Still, Game 7s are must watch.

2) Utah at Portland, battle for the three seed in the West. It’s the last game of the night, however the playoff seedings and matchups will not be set until it is over. Both the Jazz and Trail Blazers have punched their ticket to the postseason, but the winner of this game gets the three seed in the West and being in Golden State’s side of the bracket (with the Warriors a little banged up that may be preferrable to facing Houston).

Portland looked like a lock for the three seed a week ago, but lost four in a row to put themselves in this position. Meanwhile, Utah has won six in a row to give themselves this shot at a top three seed (which, considering they were 5 games out of the playoffs on Jan. 15, in insane). That said, Utah is on a back-to-back after beating the Warriors last night, their legs could be a little tired.

3) Milwaukee at Philadelphia, who wants to win this one? Time for a little gamesmanship. Remember that teams in the East are trying to line up a chance to play the banged up No. 2 seed Boston Celtics (a good team that will be without Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, Marcus Smart and Daniel Theis).

If the Bucks lose this game, they are the seven seed and get the Celtics in the first round. Win and they move up to six and would face LeBron James Cleveland in the first round (assuming the Cavs take care of business and knock off the lowly Knicks). How badly do the Bucks want this one?

If the Sixers win, they hang on to the three seed and would face Boston or the team that beats them (the Bucks) in the second round. A Philly loss combined with a Cleveland win and the Sixers fall to the four seed and face a tougher playoff path, one that goes through Toronto. Meaning the Sixers are motivated to win this one.

So one team is motivated to win, another to lose… you see where this is going, right?

One other game to watch: Toronto at Miami. This doesn’t matter to Toronto, they are the top seed. For Miami, win and they will be the six or seven seed, but a Heat loss combined with a Wizards win (over a tanking Magic team) and the Heat become the seven seed. Miami is motivated in this one, Toronto… not so much.

Kelly Oubre: Raptors’ Delon Wright ‘doesn’t play well anywhere else, you know, other than at home’

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Delon Wright made some big plays down the stretch to help the Raptors to a Game 5 win over the Wizards last night. With Toronto up 3-2 in the first-round series and the home team winning the first five games, Game 6 is tomorrow in Washington.

Oubre, via Candace Buckner of The Washington Post:

“The next game is a different story. We’re back at home. Just like Delon doesn’t play well anywhere else, you know, other than at home,” Oubre said, sharing inspiration coupled with a touch of an insult. “You can kind of chalk it up as the same story.”

Wright decided not to escalate the conflict when reporters asked him about it.

Wright has been much better in Toronto than Washington in this series. His average game score is 14.7 at home and 5.7 on the road.

But that’s such a small sample. During the regular season, there wasn’t nearly such a big split between Wright’s average game score at home (8.4) and on the road (6.9).

For what it’s worth, Oubre has a somewhat similar home-road average-game-score split, both in this series (9.4 at home, 6.3 on the road) and during the regular season (8.1 at home, 7.5 on the road). Which Oubre basically acknowledged in his diss of Wright/self-own.

This is pretty typical Oubre – hyper-competitive verging on out of control. It’s fun regardless.

Let’s just say he’s right, though, and the Wizards win Game 6. Game 7 would be Sunday in Toronto, where, by Oubre’s own admission, Wright plays well and the Raptors are undefeated in the postseason. Then what?

Rumor: Bulls expected to wait until 2019 for free-agency splash

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The Bulls tanked so hard this year, the NBA warned them to cut it out. It was a rare instance of the league responding to actual tanking measures rather than just talk of preferring to lose.

Bulls executive John Paxson, via Vincent Goodwill of NBC Sports Chicago:

“We did this year what we felt was in the longterm best interests of the Bulls,” Paxson said. “It’s not a situation that any of us want to ever be in again; it goes against everything as a competitive person that you believe in; but it’s the way the system is set up.”

Chicago could try to turn around quickly. The Bulls project to have about $25 million in cap space this summer – enough to land a good player or two.

Mark Schanowski of NBC Sports Chicago:

The assumption in league circles is the Bulls will wait until 2019 to make their big move when players like Klay Thompson, Kawhi Leonard and Kyrie Irving could be on the market, and might consider signing with the Bulls after watching another year of development from LaVine, Lauri Markkanen and Kris Dunn.

This is the wise course. It’s unlikely Chicago can lure anyone good enough to lift such a young core quickly. The Bulls are better off remaining patient – and bad, which will net another high draft pick as Lauri Markkanen, Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn develop.

This is also probably the course thrust upon Chicago. Even if they wanted to, the Bulls probably can’t land a premier free agent this summer. Star free agents can see the same problems with Chicago trying for a quick fix and will likely avoid the situation.

There’d be no harm in trying for top free agents like LeBron James or even Paul George. But the Bulls will probably be relegated to 2019 if they want to sign someone meaningful. Better they realize that than make a desperate attempt for relevance this year.

Rich Cho on Trail Blazers getting swept: ‘Being a previous Portland GM, that didn’t disappoint me’

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In 2011, the Trail Blazers surprisingly fired Rich Cho after only season as general manager.

Cho – since hired and fired by the Hornets – seems to be holding a grudge.

John Canzano of The Oregonian:

That’s a sentiment many people hold toward their former employer. Few say so publicly. That Cho did indicates just how strongly he feels.

Under owner Paul Allen, the Trail Blazers have run through numerous executives. It’s part of the culture in Portland, and it leaves a lot of outgoing people bitter.

Current general manager Neil Olshey ought to be mindful of that.

Josh Allen’s old tweet: ‘I hate LeBron!!!!! #LeBronSucks’

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Josh Allen, a quarterback from Wyoming, could be the No. 1 pick in tonight’s NFL draft. But his recently unearthed high school tweets – which include using the n-word with an ‘a’ at the end – are the sports story of the day.

And there’s an NBA tie.

Via Ryan Young of Yahoo Sports:

I hate LeBron!!!!! #LeBronSucks

— Josh Allen (@JoshAllenQB) June 7, 2011

Damian Lillard went down this same road with LeBron James, and they got past it.

But it would be a little more awkward if the Cleveland Browns – who have the Nos. 1 and 4 picks – take Allen. Then, Allen will face more scrutiny over this tweet – the most innocuous of the bunch.