NBA playoff scenarios: Seeds, matchups as they change on the last day of the season

There was nothing perfunctory about the final night of the NBA’s 2017-2018 season. There were 12 games on the schedule, including a de facto play-in game between the Denver Nuggets and Minnesota Timberwolves that the Timberwolves won in overtime.

Even the 15 teams with playoff berths clinched had plenty at stake as zero playoff matchups set. There were only teams locked into specific seeds after 81 games.

Here is a rundown of the battle for seeding in each conference as well as a look at what is at stake for every team still in the playoff picture. This will be updated the entire night.


1. Raptors vs. 8. Wizards
2. Celtics vs. 7. Bucks
3. 76ers vs. 6. Heat
4. Cavaliers vs. 5. Pacers

East No. 1 seed: Toronto Raptors (59-23)

This was locked in before the night.

East No. 2 seed: Boston Celtics (55-27)

This was locked in before the night.

East No. 3 seed: Philadelphia 76ers (52-30)

The 76ers wrapped this up by walloping the Bucks in the season finale. Sixteen straight wins!

East No. 4 seed: Cleveland Cavaliers (50-32)

The Cavaliers lost to the Knicks at home by 12, but it wouldn’t have mattered.

East No. 5 seed: Indiana Pacers (48-34)

This is locked in.

East No. 6 seed: Miami Heat (44-38)

Miami got this spot by outlasting the Raptors in overtime and watching the Bucks decide not to show up against the 76ers. But given how great the 76ers are playing, maybe this was a pyrrhic victory?

East No. 7 seed: Milwaukee Bucks (44-38)

Lucky Bucks. They were obliterated by the 76ers, but fall safely into the No. 7 seed and a date with the banged-up Celtics thanks to …

East No. 8 seed: Washington Wizards (43-39)

The Wizards followed up a huge win over the Celtics … by losing to a Magic team with massive incentive to lose for lottery positioning. John Wall and Otto Porter didn’t play, but still. Typical of their season.


1. Rockets vs. 8. Timberwolves
2. Warriors vs. 7. Spurs
3. Blazers OR Jazz vs. Thunder OR Pelicans
4. Blazers OR Thunder vs. 5. Pelicans OR Jazz

West No. 1 seed: Houston Rockets (65-16)

This was locked in before the night.

West No. 2 seed: Golden State Warriors (58-24)

This was locked in before the night.

West No. 3 seed: Winner of Portland Trail Blazers (48-33) vs. Utah Jazz (48-33)

They play each other at 10:30 p.m. ET. This is relatively simple.

West No. 4 seed: Trail Blazers, or Oklahoma City Thunder (48-34)

THE BLAZERS ARE THE NO. 4 SEED IF: They lose to the Jazz.


West No. 5 seed: Jazz or New Orleans Pelicans (48-34)

THE JAZZ ARE THE NO. 5 SEED IF: They lose to the Blazers.


West No. 6 seed: Thunder or Pelicans

THE THUNDER ARE THE NO. 6 SEED IF: The Jazz win. Portland and New Orleans own three-team tiebreakers over Oklahoma City.

THE PELICANS ARE THE NO. 6 SEED IF: The Blazers win. The three-team tiebreakers in that scenario would go: Oklahoma City, Utah, New Orleans.

West No. 7 seed: San Antonio Spurs (47-35)

San Antonio lost badly to the Pelicans in New Orleans and saw their seed drop when Oklahoma City beat Memphis as expected.

West No. 8 seed: Minnesota Timberwolves (47-35)

They won an OT thriller vs. the Nuggets to make the playoffs for the first time in 12 years. They could have moved up had New Orleans or Oklahoma City lost, but they did not.

West No. 9 seed: Denver Nuggets (46-36)

Poor Denver.

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