Home Sports NBA Playoff positioning continues, and see what games matter most

NBA Playoff positioning continues, and see what games matter most


NBA LeBron James Steph Curry Lakers vs Warriors

LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers and Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors talk to each other after the Lakers beat the Warriors in double overtime at Chase Center on January 27, 2024 in San Francisco, California. Ezra Shaw/Getty Images/AFP

The last week of the NBA season has arrived.

With no games Monday — the league typically tries to not play on the night of the NCAA men’s championship game — the schedule resumes Tuesday with 14 games, 13 of which have at least some form of playoff implications.

The big game Tuesday: A likely play-in tournament preview with Golden State visiting the Los Angeles Lakers, a meeting of teams with championship pedigree that could meet next week in an elimination game.

This week is all about playoff positioning. In the East, Milwaukee, Orlando, New York and Cleveland will likely finish second through fifth in some order. In the West, Denver, Minnesota and Oklahoma City will almost certainly finish 1-2-3 — again, in some order — and the Los Angeles Clippers seemed to be almost locked into the No. 4 spot.


The day’s lineup includes every team except Cleveland and Brooklyn, with two games nationally televised:

7:30 p.m. Eastern — Boston at Milwaukee, TNT/TruTV

10 p.m. Eastern — Golden State at L.A. Lakers, TNT/TruTV


Kristaps Porzingis Celtics NBA

Boston Celtics’ Kristaps Porzingis (8) celebrates his 3-pointer, next to Sacramento Kings’ Harrison Barnes (40) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, April 5, 2024, in Boston. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

The only seed that has been locked up is East No. 1, which Boston wrapped up weeks ago.

Denver, Minnesota and Oklahoma City have clinched playoff spots in the NBA Western Conference. Boston and Milwaukee have clinched spots from the NBA Eastern Conference.

There will be 20 teams still in the race for the Larry O’Brien Trophy when the regular season ends Sunday, and those 20 slots are already claimed — with Chicago and Atlanta certain to be in the play-in tournament next week.

As of now, Philadelphia, Miami, New Orleans, Sacramento, the Lakers and Golden State also hold what would be the play-in spots.

Brooklyn, Toronto, Charlotte, Washington, Detroit, Houston, Utah, Memphis, Portland and San Antonio have been eliminated from all postseason contention.


Boston has home-court advantage throughout the NBA playoffs and is currently the heavy favorite to win the championship, according to FanDuel Sportsbook. The Celtics are listed at +170, well ahead of defending champion Denver (+360). Next up: Milwaukee (+800), the Clippers (+850) and Oklahoma City (+1400).


— Tyrese Maxey had his league-high-tying third game of at least 50 points this season, leading Philadelphia to a 133-126 double-overtime win over Victor Wembanyama and the San Antonio Spurs. Maxey, Philly teammate Joel Embiid and Phoenix’s Devin Booker all had three 50-or-more games this season. The win moved the 76ers past Miami into the No. 7 spot in the East.

— Klay Thompson scored 32 points on the day that Golden State’s postseason berth was clinched, and the Warriors beat Utah even without a resting Stephen Curry.

— The Clippers rallied from 26 points down to beat Cleveland 120-118. It tied the second-largest comeback win in the NBA this season and is the third time the Clippers won after trailing by at least 20 points.


There have been more assists this season than ever before. The previous record for a season in the NBA was 62,279. After Sunday, the total was 62,597. It’s the third straight season and the sixth time in the last eight years that the NBA has seen a new total assist record.

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“Guys are coming into form at the right time.” — Orlando coach Jamahl Mosley, after the Magic improved to 22-9 in their last 31 games by beating Chicago.

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