NBA playoffs, play-in tournament set as Thunder grab West’s top seed

The last day of the regular season finalized seeding for the NBA playoffs and play-in tournament, with the Oklahoma City Thunder earning the top seed out West and the play-in set to begin on Tuesday.

The eighth-seeded Lakers will face the No. 7 Pelicans in New Orleans, a familiar matchup after Los Angeles initiated that game by winning 124-108 in New Orleans on Sunday. That win prevented the Pelicans from avoiding the play-in tournament altogether, and the Lakers ended up winning the regular-season series 3-1.

“We have to come back with the right mentality,” New Orleans coach Willie Green said. “We have to be the aggressive team. We have to be the more physical team. We have to keep them out of our paint.”

The No. 9 Sacramento Kings will host the 10th-seeded Golden State Warriors later Tuesday, and those teams won’t have that same level of familiarity, as they haven’t faced one another since Jan. 25, a 134-133 Kings win. Their regular-season series ended tied at 2-2.

On Wednesday, the league’s attention turns to the Eastern Conference, as the No. 7 Philadelphia 76ers host the eighth-seeded Miami Heat.

The Sixers saw their chances of grabbing a top-six seed evaporate on Sunday despite their 107-86 win over the Brooklyn Nets, as the Indiana Pacers also won. The Heat have lost their last two games with Philadelphia, including a 109-105 decision on April 4.

The nightcap on Wednesday will feature the No. 10 seed Atlanta Hawks traveling to Chicago to take on the ninth-seeded Bulls, a matchup that has been in the making for quite some time with neither team finishing within less than three games of another team in the standings. The Bulls won the season series 2-1, but the Hawks took the most recent contest, 113-101, on April 1.

The winners of both 7-8 games will advance to the playoffs as No. 7 seeds to face the Denver Nuggets in the West and the New York Knicks in the East.

Friday will see the loser of Miami-Philadelphia take on the winner of Atlanta-Chicago. In the West, it will be the winner of Golden State-Sacramento facing the loser of Los Angeles-New Orleans.

The NBA playoffs will begin the next day on Saturday, with the second-seeded Nuggets and Knicks hosting their respective series. The Orlando Magic (No. 5 seed) and Cavaliers (4) will also begin their series in Cleveland, while the Minnesota Timberwolves (3) will host the Phoenix Suns (6) in Game 1 of their series.

Sunday, the playoffs continue with the Thunder playing host to the West’s final play-in winner. Oklahoma City earned the top seed in the West on Sunday with its 135-86 blowout win over the Dallas Mavericks. Those Mavericks, the fifth seed out West, travel to take on the fourth-seeded Los Angeles Clippers.

The No. 1 seed Boston Celtics will be hosting Friday’s play-in winner in the East, while No. 6 Indiana will take on the No. 3 Bucks in Milwaukee.

Blogs

Headlines