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The Five: Everything to know for Week 22

Tight race in the West, NCAA Tournament trivia, marquee matchups and more.

The Kings and Grizzlies are knotted at 40-26 and battling for the No. 2 spot.

Every Monday we will tell you what you need to know heading into a new week of NBA action.

1. The Wild Wild West

When looking at the Eastern Conference standings entering Week 22, we see some clear tiers that have emerged:

  • The Bucks, Celtics and Sixers at the top, separated by three games amongst each other, but holding a five-game edge over the rest of the field
  • The Cavaliers, Nets and Knicks in the second tier, also separated by three games among each other, and hold a three-game edge over the Play-In field
  • The Heat and Hawks hold the top of the Play-In field, with a two-game edge over the other Play-In contenders
  • The Raptors and Bulls close out the Play-In field with 36 losses each, just one up on Indiana and Washington, and four up on Orlando
  • The Hornets and Pistons round out the field with Detroit officially eliminated from playoff contention and the Charlotte getting dangerously close to joining them

Then there is the Western Conference, which is set up to be a wild ride over the final four weeks of the regular season to see which team can lock up a guaranteed playoff spot, which teams end up in the Play-In and which teams will head to the lottery.

  • Despite their three-game losing streak, the Nuggets still sit atop the West, with a four-game lead over both the Kings and Grizzlies, who are knotted at 40-26 and battling for the No. 2 spot.
  • The Suns are hovering in their own spot at No. 4 as they are four games behind the Kings and Grizzlies, but three games ahead of the Clippers and Warriors
  • After the top four teams, the race gets incredibly tight as two games separate the eight teams ranked No. 5 through No. 12 – that’s the last two guaranteed playoff spots, the entire Play-In field, and the two teams just outside the Play-In all separated by just two losses.
  • Oh, and the bottom four of those teams – No. 9 Utah, No. 10 Oklahoma City, No. 11 Los Angeles Lakers and No. 12 New Orleans – all open the week with matching 33-35 records.
  • The Blazers are the only other team in contention for the Play-In as they sit two games back of that four-team tie. Both the Spurs and Rockets have been officially eliminated from the postseason.

With so many teams in the mix, the postseason picture is changing on a nightly basis. While the postseason is still a month away – the 2023 NBA Playoffs tip off on April 15 – the final four weeks of the regular season will have a playoff-like intensity for these teams fighting to make the field. At this point, a three-game losing streak could be catastrophic for a team’s playoff hopes, while a three-game win streak could move a team from the Play-In to the guaranteed playoff spots.

Head-to-head meetings become increasingly important as that is the initial tiebreaker should the regular season end without any separation. Of the four teams knotted at 33-35, there is only one such game to circle, which is Tuesday’s matchup between the Lakers and Pelicans (8 p.m. ET, League Pass). The Lakers currently hold the tiebreaker by leading the season series 2-1, but the Pelicans could even the series and force further tiebreakers – next would be conference record, which would give the Pelicans the edge – should they be needed.

This week’s schedule, Nos. 9-12 in the West

  • Jazz: Monday at Heat; Saturday vs. Celtics
  • Thunder: Tuesday vs. Brooklyn, Thursday at Toronto. Sunday vs. Phoenix
  • Lakers: Tuesday at Pelicans, Wednesday at Rockets, Friday vs. Mavericks, Sunday vs. Magic
  • Pelicans: Tuesday vs. Lakers, Friday at Rockets, Sunday at Rockets

Just above this four-way tie is a two-way tie between the Timberwolves and Mavericks for the Nos. 7 and 8 spots in the Play-In field. Both teams enter Week 22 having lost two straight and the Mavericks will be without Luka Doncic (thigh strain) and possibly without Kyrie Irving (questionable with foot soreness) for Monday’s game against Memphis.

2. Milestone Watch: Jokic climbing triple-double ranks

On Friday, Nikola Jokic’s record streak of 29 consecutive wins when recording a triple-double – a run that lasted over a full calendar year dating back to last season – was finally snapped in a loss to the San Antonio Spurs.

Two days later, he posted another ridiculous stat line – 35 points, 20 rebounds and 11 assists – but it was not enough as the Nuggets fell to the Nets for their third straight loss overall, and second straight loss in a Jokic triple-double game.

With Sunday’s performance, Jokic has a league-best 27 triple-doubles on the season (no other player has more than 10) and 103 for his career. Jokic enters Week 22 needing four to pass LeBron James (106) for fifth place on the all-time list and five more to pass Jason Kidd (107) for fourth place.

The Nuggets have a four-game week as they open up a five-game road trip on Tuesday in Toronto (Jokic has two career triple-doubles vs. the Raptors), followed by stops in Detroit (3 triple-doubles), New York (1 triple-double) and Brooklyn (3 triple-doubles).

Of Jokic’s 103 career triple-doubles, only 38 have come on the road compared to 65 at home. While that stat may indicate that it is unlikely for Jokic to record four straight to pass LeBron and get closer to Kidd this week, Jokic’s triple-double rate this season (27 in 60 games played, 45%) would indicate it should happen over Denver’s final 14 games of the season.

3. National TV Spotlight: 5 must-see matchups

Curry and the Warriors will look to extend their home win streak to 8 against the Phoenix Suns Monday night.

Monday: Phoenix at Golden State, 10 p.m. ET, ESPN

The Warriors snapped their three-game losing streak (all on the road) on Saturday as they defeated the Bucks in overtime behind a 36-point performance from Stephen Curry in his first home game since returning from injury. The Warriors will look to keep the home win streak going (seven straight games) when they host the Suns on Monday before hitting the road for a five-game trip.

Tuesday: Milwaukee at Phoenix, 10 p.m. ET, NBA TV

It’s a rematch of the 2021 NBA Finals when the Suns host the Bucks on Tuesday night in Phoenix. Milwaukee has won six of the last seven games between these teams dating back to Game 3 of the Finals as they closed that series with four straight wins after the Suns led 2-0. The status of Giannis Antetokounmpo will be key to follow as the Bucks have played their last three games without the two-time MVP.

Wednesday: Philadelphia at Cleveland, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

The Sixers enter Week 22 riding the longest active win streak in the league and will look to push that streak to six games in a row when they face the Cavaliers in Cleveland on Wednesday. The No. 3 Sixers hold a five-loss lead over the No. 4 Cavaliers in the East standings, but their season series will be determined by this game should a head-to-head tiebreaker be needed.

Friday: Dallas at Los Angeles Lakers, 10:30 p.m. ET, NBA TV

Both the Mavericks and Lakers enter Week 22 embroiled in the eight-team battle for playoff and play-in positioning. Dallas holds a one-game edge over Los Angeles in the standings and a 2-1 edge in the season series. The last two games have been decided by four points or less, including the most recent meeting on Feb. 26 when the Lakers overcame a 26-point deficit to defeat the Mavericks 111-108.

Saturday: Golden State at Memphis, 8 p.m. ET, NBA TV

It’s time for another chapter in the budding rivalry between the Golden State Warriors and Memphis Grizzlies. We’ll have to wait and see if Ja Morant will be back with the Grizzlies for this game. Memphis announced last Wednesday that Morant would be away from the team for at least four more games, which means the earliest that Morant would re-join the team would be Friday’s game against San Antonio, the day prior to this matchup with the Warriors. Of course, the Grizzlies may decide to extend the time that Morant is away from the team as well.

4. League Pass games to watch: 5 more to check out

Monday: Milwaukee at Sacramento, 10 p.m. ET, League Pass

It’s not only a matchup of the No. 1 team in the East and the No. 2 team in the West, but two of the hottest teams entering Week 22. Despite their loss to Golden State on Saturday, the Bucks have won 19 of their past 21 games. Meanwhile, the Kings are a league-best 8-1 since the All-Star break. If Sacramento hopes to keep that run going, they’ll need to snap a 13-game losing streak to Milwaukee that dates back to Nov. 5, 2016.

Tuesday: Los Angeles Lakers at New Orleans & Brooklyn at Oklahoma City, 8 p.m. ET, League Pass

As discussed earlier, the Lakers, Pelicans and Thunder are three of the four teams (along with the Jazz) tied at 33-35 for the Nos. 9-12 seeds in the Western Conference. The key game here is the Lakers and Pelicans as a Los Angeles win would lock up the head-to-head tiebreaker with New Orleans. The standings entering this week prove the importance of owning tiebreakers. If the season ended on Sunday, the Jazz and Thunder would make the play-in tournament, while the Lakers and Pelicans would be out due to tiebreakers.

Wednesday: Boston at Minnesota, 8 p.m. ET, League Pass

After dropping four out of five games to fall from the top spot in the Eastern Conference, the Celtics closed out Week 21 with consecutive wins over Portland at home and Atlanta on the road to get back on track. The game against the Hawks was the first of a six-game road trip for the Celtics, who hold the top road record in the league at 21-12. Can they keep that road success going as they travel west to face Houston, Minnesota, Portland, Utah and Sacramento in a nine-day span?

Saturday: Denver at New York, 1 p.m. ET, League Pass

This is the first of two New York City matinees for the Nuggets as they face the Nets at 3:30 ET on Sunday in Brooklyn as stops three and four of a five-game road trip for Denver. The Nuggets enter Week 22 having lost three in a row – matching their longest losing streak of the season – but Denver maintains a four-loss lead over both Sacramento and Memphis at the top of the West standings. The Knicks just snapped a three-game losing streak of their own on Sunday against the Lakers to pick up their 40th win of the season.

Sunday: LA Clippers at Portland, 9 p.m. ET, League Pass

After making the playoffs for eight straight seasons from 2014-2021, the Blazers are in danger of missing the postseason for the second straight season. Portland enters Week 22 having lost eight of their last 11 games, including Sunday’s loss to New Orleans without Damian Lillard, who was held out of the game due to tightness in his right calf. Portland sits in 13th place in the West and two games back of the four teams tied for the Nos. 9-12 seeds. On the other hand, the Clippers enter this week having won three in a row to climb to fifth in the West.

5. NBA Trivia: NCAA Tournament Edition

With the brackets set for this year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, we look at which schools are most represented in the NBA. There are six schools that feature at least 10 current NBA players, how many can you name?








Kentucky: 26

Duke: 23

UCLA: 12

USC: 11

Arizona: 10

Kansas: 10