Wednesday was expected to be a wild night in the NBA and we got exactly that.
Heading into the final night of regular season action, we only had one playoff series set in stone: Cavs vs. Celtics. Everything else was still up in the air. Here’s the breakdown of everything you need to know:
— Pelicans in, Thunder out.
It’s amazing how this worked out. The Thunder demolished the Timberwolves right out of the gates like we expected — Russell Westbrook had 23 points in the first quarter and 34 in the half — but the Pelicans did something that we didn’t expect. They ended the Spurs’ 11-game winning streak while San Antonio still had something to play for, which means Anthony Davis and co. clinched the eight-seed.
The Brow was fantastic in the biggest game of his career (essentially a one-game playoff against the defending champs), finishing with 31 points, 13 boards and three blocks. I bet Westbrook regrets not being a Spurs fan now, because the scoring champ is headed home early.
But the craziest thing? This is the reason NOLA is in the playoffs over OKC:
— Spurs land the six-seed.
This was a tough night for the red-hot Spurs. They entered the night with the two-seed, riding an 11-game win streak. Had they defeated the Pelicans, they would have had home court against the Mavs in the first round and home court in the second round if they won.
Instead, the loss booted them all the way down to the six-seed, meaning they’ll have to go on the road and compete against the Clippers. Talk about worst case scenario. I’m still picking the Spurs in this series, but things drastically changed very quickly for them on Wednesday.
— Rockets clinch two-seed.
The fall of the Spurs meant the rise of the Rockets … kind of. Their 56 wins are the same as the Clips and just one more than both the Grizzlies and Spurs, but it was good enough for Houston to be second in the west. It’s an extremely impressive accomplishment for a team that hasn’t offered much help to James Harden all season long. I made the case for Harden to win MVP a while back, but now I’m all in on him winning it. Steph Curry has been awesome, but he’s on an amazing team. Harden has carried the most responsibility in the NBA and still willed his team to the two-seed.
— Grizzlies get home court.
After San Antonio lost in New Orleans, they still had a shot at home court. If the Grizz had lost, the Spurs would have hosted the Blazers in the first-round. But Memphis knew what they were playing for and pulled out a win against the Pacers. The Grizzlies, although they are the five-seed, will host the fourth seeded Blazers because they have a better record. And because this resulted in a Pacers loss …
— Nets in, Pacers out.
Like the Pelicans, Indiana was simply in a “win and you’re in” situation. Unlike the Pelicans, they blew it. It almost didn’t matter — the Nets had a tough time with the Magic for the first three quarters. But Brooklyn finally got hungry and dominated the fourth quarter, which ended up being worth a playoff spot.
— Bulls clinch three-seed.
Chicago’s win over Atlanta got it the three-seed, a big deal in the east. The Bulls will face the Bucks in the first-round, definitely the matchup they were hoping for. The win kept them away from the possibility of having to face off with the dangerous Wizards instead. Obviously, this means the Raptors and Wizards will play in the four/five matchup in the east.
And to think, all of this insanity was simply just setting the table for the postseason. I have no clue who is going to win the championship, but this year feels like it has the makings of an all-time great NBA playoffs.
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