Advertisement

12 must-watch games in NBA final week that will determine playoff seeding

We know the 20 teams headed to the NBA postseason (Brooklyn and Houston have been eliminated). We know Boston is the No. 1 seed in the East. We know the Bulls and Hawks will face each other in the Play-In on April 17 (most likely at the United Center).

That's it. There are far more questions than answers heading into the final week of the NBA season because there are so many races to watch:

Minnesota, Denver, and Oklahoma City are all within one game of each other for the top three seeds in the West.

Phoenix, New Orleans, Sacramento, and the Los Angeles Lakers are all within 1.5 games of each other, fighting for seeds 6-9 in the West —and avoiding the play-in altogether to the one who comes out on top.

Milwaukee, Orlando, New York and Cleveland are all within 1.5 games of each other for seeds 2-5 in the East.

Indiana, Philadelphia and Miami are all within 1.5 games of each other for seeds 6-8 in the East and avoiding the play-in (slumping Cleveland could fall back to this race, too).

With that, here are a dozen must-watch games in the final week of the NBA season that will set up the NBA playoff race.

Tuesday

Golden State at Los Angeles Lakers: This could be a 9 vs. 10 play-in preview in the West, but if the Lakers have dreams of climbing up to seventh or eighth and avoiding this matchup they need this win.

Wednesday

Orlando at Milwaukee: The Bucks have dropped four straight and looked like a mess, while Orlando keeps flying under the radar yet has won 4-of-5. Both teams are on the second night of a back-to-back (the Bucks play the Celtics the night before).
Minnesota at Denver: The biggest game of the week in determining who will be the No. 1 seed in the West. Both teams are on back-to-backs.
Phoenix at Los Angeles Clippers: Two top-heavy teams who are inconsistent with their execution. The Clippers are pretty locked in at No. 4 in the West as long as they find a couple of wins the last week, while the Suns need every win to avoid the play-in.

Thursday

New Orleans at Sacramento: This could well be the 7 vs. 8 West play-in preview. Both teams have been scuffling of late and need wins.
Friday.
Orlando at Philadelphia: A classic "both teams need the win" matchup down the stretch, and both teams are playing well.
Indiana at Cleveland: Both teams have stumbled toward the playoffs, both teams need to get back to playing their style of basketball — and their styles clash, which makes this fun.
Milwaukee at Oklahoma City: Huge cross-conference matchup between two teams fighting for top three seeds. Hopefully, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander will be healthy and back for this one.

Sunday (final day of NBA season)

Milwaukee at Orlando: This East showdown could have a lot on the line in terms of seeding.
Phoenix at Minnesota: At least one and maybe both of these teams will need wins to secure playoff seedings they want, it could be a real clash of stars on the last day.
Los Angeles Lakers at New Orleans: This could have a huge impact on the play-in standings in the West.
Dallas at Oklahoma City: This game almost certainly will mean something for seeding to the Thunder, and it might for the Mavericks if the Clippers stumble and they have a shot at the No. 4 seed.