The final weekend of the NBA regular season is going down to the wire
The GIST: March Madness, meet April anxiety. It’s the final weekend of the NBA regular season, and nearly half of the 20 available postseason spots are still TBD ahead of next week’s play-in tourney tip-off. Talk about down to the wire.
The set-up: The league’s recently introduced play-in tournament is, as hoped, adding an extra layer of drama. How does it work? The top six teams in each conference are guaranteed a playoff spot, but the seventh through 10th place teams will have to battle it out next week to secure the final two playoff berths.
- As a play-in tournament team, your season could come down to one game, as opposed to a best-of-seven playoff series, making it all the more important for contending hopefuls to make the leap in this final week. No pressure.
Eastern Conference: The field is mostly set, with the top-five squads locked in, highlighted by the No. 1 Milwaukee Bucks clinching the league’s best regular-season record on Wednesday. The battle for that final No. 6 spot could be the most contentious, as the Brooklyn Nets and Miami Heat are both still looking to avoid the play-in.
- As for the other three Eastern Conference play-in teams, the Atlanta Hawks, Toronto Raptors and Chicago Bulls are all guaranteed at least one more game, although there’s some potential for seeding changes over these final 72 hours.
Western Conference: The West is where things get truly wild. The top-four squads have punched their playoff tickets, with the Denver Nuggets at the top after nabbing the No. 1 seed for the first time in franchise history. But it’s pure chaos from there, as seventeams could potentially fall into the stressful play-in round.
- One squad surprisingly on the bubble? The Steph Curry–led defending champ Golden State Warriors. Currently in the No. 6 spot, they’ll need two weekend wins to avoid the play-in chaos.