How Tuesday night's games affected 2018 NBA playoff chase
From NBA.com Staff
There were 56 possible seeding scenarios still in play going into the final two days of the regular season. We did not receive much clarity Tuesday night, as only three games had playoff-seeding implications.
— NBA (@NBA) April 11, 2018
In fact, the only order of business that was cleared up was the No. 2 overall seed, with Toronto now assured of finishing with the NBA’s second-best record. All eight first-round matchups will be determined Wednesday night.
JJ Redick scored 28 points and the surging Sixers set a franchise record with their 15th consecutive victory, holding off Atlanta to move a step closer to locking up the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference. The Sixers can secure the No. 3 seed with a win over Milwaukee in the regular-season finale.
Donovan Mitchell scored 22 points and set the NBA rookie record for 3-pointers as Utah rolled past Golden State. The Jazz can claim the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference with a win over Portland on Wednesday night. Even with a loss to the Blazers, Utah is assured of falling no lower than the No. 5 seed.
John Wall looked ready for the postseason, scoring 29 points with 12 assists in a win over Boston. For now, the Wizards are eighth in the East. Their result against Orlando, along with how Miami fares against Toronto and what Milwaukee does at Philadelphia, will determine where the Wizards, Heat and Bucks are seeded.
Here’s what we know heading into the final day of the regular season:
• All but one of the 16 playoff spots have been clinched, with the Minnesota-Denver game deciding the final berth in the postseason.
• Only five of the 16 seeds are set in stone: Houston is No. 1 in the West, followed by Golden State at No. 2. The clinched East seeds are No. 1 Toronto, No. 2 Boston and No. 5 Indiana.
• The Portland-Utah winner will finish No. 3 in the Western Conference, but if the Jazz lose they could fall as far as No. 5 depending on the outcome of other games.
• San Antonio, Oklahoma City and New Orleans could all be anywhere from fourth through eighth in the West. Minnesota would finish anywhere from fifth through eighth if it tops Denver, and the Nuggets — if they beat the Timberwolves — will be fifth, sixth or seventh.
• Philadelphia and Cleveland will be No. 3 and No. 4 in the East, in some order.
• Milwaukee, Miami and Washington all could finish either sixth, seventh or eighth in the East.
10 other things to note heading into the last day of the regular season:
A First For LeBron
It’s really, really, really hard to find something that LeBron James hasn’t done in his career. But if he appears for Cleveland against New York on Wednesday night, it will mark the first time in James’ 15 seasons that he plays in all 82 regular-season games. He will lead the NBA in minutes played, field goals made and total points this season — at 33 years old.
Philadelphia would be the No. 3 seed in the East if it beats Milwaukee, and a franchise that knew nothing but losing (OK, “process” losing) in recent years will set a record — for winning. If the 76ers prevail, it would be their 16th consecutive victory and that would top the record for longest winning streak to end any NBA season.
Houston’s James Harden has the scoring crown wrapped up. He’ll be the first player to win back-to-back scoring titles since his former Oklahoma City teammate Kevin Durant won three straight from 2009-10 through 2011-12.
Once again, the NBA will see more points than ever (in terms of total, not average per game). There were 259,753 points in the regular season a year ago; that will be surpassed Wednesday night, and the league is on pace to reach somewhere around 261,000 by the time the final whistle blows.
Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook needs 16 rebounds against Memphis to average exactly 10.0 per game this season. If he gets there, he’ll average a triple-double for the second consecutive year. Westbrook has six games this season with at least 16 rebounds, including a season-high, 18-board effort at Miami on Monday night. Westbrook will also lead the NBA in assists per game.
Golden State lost 10 of its final 17 games this season. The Warriors’ regular season ended Tuesday with a blowout loss at Utah. Klay Thompson isn’t worried, and he knows the defending champions – who have dealt with many injuries, most recently Stephen Curry out with a knee issue — have plenty of doubters. “We’re ready to prove people wrong,” Thompson said.
The field-goal percentage race between Houston’s Clint Capela and the Los Angeles Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan might look closer than it really is. Capela is shooting 65.3 percent, Jordan 64.3 percent — but if Jordan is going to catch Capela, he’ll have to shoot 15 for 15 on Wednesday (assuming Capela doesn’t take any shots). Jordan was trying to be the first player to lead the league in shooting for six straight seasons, but it seems like he’ll merely have to settle for tying Wilt Chamberlain and Shaquille O’Neal with five straight crowns.
Another category where Jordan will finish second. Detroit’s Andre Drummond will lead the league’s rebounding race for the second time in three years.
The Northwest Division this season will go down as the most competitive in the current six-division format — and it’s not even close. The team that finishes last in the Northwest this season will be only three games behind the team that wins the division crown. There’s never been a last-place team within less than 11 games of the winner in this current format, which has been in play for 14 seasons.
There have been 116 rookies in the NBA this season, up 28 from last season, and the latest addition is noteworthy. Andre Ingram is a 32-year-old who debuted Tuesday for the Los Angeles Lakers against Houston. He’s the oldest rookie this season and he more than paid his dues, having logged 384 games in what’s now called the G League — where he’s the career leader in 3-pointers (713). This year’s rookie class is the largest since 1949-50, when 120 players made their debuts.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.