The Lakers have a chance to move as high as the 7 seed, or miss the playoffs completely.
Wednesday is the final day of the NBA regular season, and there’s no shortage of reasons to tune in. There are still playoff spots to be clinched, seeds to be determined and individual honors to be claimed.
Wild West Playoff Picture
The Denver Nuggets have the inside track for the 3 seed. They’ll lock it down with a home win over the Phoenix Suns, or if the Los Angeles Clippers lose what could be the Kings’ final game in Sacramento. If Denver loses and the Clippers win, the Clippers take the third slot.
The worst the Nuggets or Clippers could do is the 4 seed and a First Round matchup with the Memphis Grizzlies, but who hosts the first game of that series is still to be decided.
If Memphis, currently with the same record as the Clippers, ends with a better record, it will have home-court advantage of the series, despite being seeded lower.
From six on down, it gets even more convoluted. If the Houston Rockets beat the Los Angeles Lakers (10:30 ET, ESPN) and the Golden State Warriors lose to the Portland Trail Blazers, the Rockets knock the Warriors out of the 6 seed.
The Warriors can’t fall any lower than seventh, but Houston could potentially fall as low as eighth. If the Lakers beat the Rockets, the Lakers take the 7 seed, knocking Houston to eighth.
If the Lakers lose to the Rockets, it opens the window for the Utah Jazz to get the final playoff spot with a win over the Grizzlies (8 ET, ESPN).
WESTERN CONFERENCE PLAYOFF SCENARIOS
East is Much Simpler
If the Western Conference scenarios were too confusing, you might like the Eastern Conference much better.
Six of the eight playoff seeds are already locked in. The Chicago Bulls hold the 5 seed, and will hold onto it with either a home win over the Washington Wizards, or an Atlanta Hawks road loss to the New York Knicks.
Of course, with the 5 seed comes a potential Conference Semifinals matchup with the Miami Heat.
Individual Honors on the Line
The biggest head-to-head battle Wednesday night seemed to be Kevin Durant chasing Carmelo Anthony for the scoring title, but news that Durant will not play means that Anthony becomes the second Knicks player to win a scoring title, joining Bernard King.
CurryBut there is still history to be made. Golden State’s Stephen Curry enters Wednesday one 3-pointer behind Ray Allen’s NBA record of 269 in a single season, set in 2005-06.
Curry is averaging 3.5 3-pointers this season, meaning the odds are in his favor to break the record.
With Durant not playing, it also means Trail Blazers rookie Damian Lillard will likely lead the NBA in total minutes. He’d be just the third rookie in NBA history to lead the league in minutes played. The other two are Wilt Chamberlain (in 1959-60) and Elvin Hayes (1968-69).