With just one night left in the season a lot is still up in the air. Here’s a look at the NBA Playoff picture — what the standings look like, the potential matchups, who clinched, what will be decided on Wednesday night, and what to watch.
Hornets 124, Cavaliers 97
Pistons 100, Grizzlies 93
Celtics 116, Wizards 110
Heat 122, Sixers 99
Knicks 96, Bulls 86
Raptors 120, Timberwolves 100
Warriors 112, Pelicans 103
Mavericks 120, Suns 109
Jazz 118, Nuggets 108
Thunder 112, Rockets 111
Trail Blazers 104, Lakers 101
A couple of things were decided on Tuesday:
• Miami was eliminated from the playoffs despite their win (because Detroit and Charlotte also won).
• The Utah Jazz are locked in as the fifth seed in the West.
• And that’s it. The eighth playoff spot and three first-round playoff matchups are still in play in the East; and in the West, not one playoff series is locked in.
What to watch for Wednesday night:
• If Detroit wins on the road against New York, the Pistons are in the playoffs. However, if the Pistons lose — and with a hobbled Blake Griffin they needed an amazing comeback to beat the Grizzlies Tuesday — and the Hornets beat the Magic on Wednesday, then the Hornets are in. (If Charlotte loses, the Pistons are in.)
• There are still eight different scenarios for the 6/7/8 seeds in the East depending on what happens in three games: Miami at Brooklyn, Orlando at Charlotte, Detroit at New York.
• Brooklyn (who has clinched a playoff spot) will finish either in the six or seven seed.
• If Orlando can beat Charlotte on the road, it will finish as the six or seven seed. However, if the Magic lose (and the Hornets will be desperate to win, they need to or they are eliminated), they can fall to the eight seed.
• The top five seeds in the East are locked: Milwaukee, Toronto, Philadelphia, Boston, Indiana.
What to watch for Wednesday night:
• Denver will finish with the No. 2 seed with a win at home against the Timberwolves. A Nuggets loss and a Rockets win drops the Nuggets to the three seed (which would mean starting the second round on the road).
• Portland has a real shot at the three seed. Denver rested players against Portland over the weekend and lost to them in a not-so-subtle attempt to give Portland a boost to the three seed. If Portland can win at home Wednesday against Sacramento it ties Houston, and the Trail Blazers have the tiebreaker. Houston would then fall to the four seed (Denver would have an easier path to the conference finals, and the Rockets would fall to the Warriors side of the bracket).
• (As an aside, Houston should prefer to face Golden State in the second round: James Harden will have more in the tank and be less tired, and it is less likely Chris Paul will be injured.)
• There are eight different scenarios of how the 6/7/8 seeds can still play out in the West.
• Oklahoma City needs to win in Milwaukee to assure themselves of the six seed, lose and they could fall all the way to eight.
• If San Antonio beats Dallas at home Wednesday and Oklahoma City loses, the Spurs are the six seed.
• If the Clippers can beat the Jazz at home and the Spurs lose, the Clippers are the seven seed. Lose and they are the eight seed and get the Warriors in the first round.
IF THE PLAYOFFS STARTED TODAY:
Detroit at Milwaukee
Orlando at Toronto
Brooklyn at Philadelphia
Indiana at Boston — series clinched
L.A. Clippers at Golden State
San Antonio at Denver
Oklahoma City at Houston
Utah at Portland
WEDNESDAY’S GAMES WITH PLAYOFF IMPLICATIONS:
• Miami at Brooklyn (8 pm ET)
• Orlando at Charlotte (8 pm ET, ESPN)
• Detroit at New York (8 pm ET)
• Oklahoma City at Milwaukee (8 pm ET)
• Dallas at San Antonio (8 pm ET)
• Minnesota at Denver (10:30 pm ET)
• Utah at L.A. Clippers (10:30 pm ET, ESPN)
• Sacramento at Portland (10:30 pm ET)