It is the final day of the NBA regular season and there’s still a lot left to figure out. While 15 of the 16 playoff spots have been secured, there are still only a few teams who have their seed officially set in stone. With 22 teams in action on this final day, everything will be decided by the end of it all.
Do the Hornets or Pistons nab the final spot in the East? How does the Western Conference end up with so much positioning on the line? Which players will step up when the stakes are the highest? Here are our five predictions for the final day of the NBA season.
5. Giannis Puts The Stamp On His MVP Run
Since this season began, Giannis Anteteokounmpo has been a heavy favorite to win the Most Valuable Player award. It has come down to him against James Harden, who is having a historic season for the Houston Rockets. Antetokounmpo has been a stud since the first game of the season and he’s led the Milwaukee Bucks to the league’s best record, making them the only 60 win team this year. On the final day, they’re matched up with a tough Oklahoma City Thunder team. We’re predicting that Anteteokounmpo has a huge game that truly seals the deal for his race to the MVP award.
4. Clippers Avoid Warriors
As noted, a lot of the spots out west aren’t confirmed. The top seed is and it belongs to the Golden State Warriors. Everyone is hoping to avoid the two time defending NBA Champions in the first round. Those final two spots come down to the San Antonio Spurs and the Los Angeles Clippers. The Spurs have control, as they would need to lose and have the Clippers win to fall to the eighth spot. And yet, that’s what we’re predicting. The Spurs will fall to the Mavericks, while the surprising Clippers will best the Jazz. That will line up the final three spots for the Thunder, Clippers, and Spurs in that order.
3. Dirk and Wade Do It Again
Last night, all eyes were on Miami, where Dwyane Wade played the final home game of his career. Over in Dallas, Dirk Nowitzki officially announced that he was also playing in his last home game. Both legends turned back the clock and dropped 30 points in these epic games. 24 hours later, they’re on the road for what will be their final games ever. Asking two men at the end of their careers to drop 30 on back to back nights is a big ask. While we don’t think that happens, we do feel they both go out with a bang and have strong games. Maybe even a game winner from one of them to really end on a high note.
2. Portland Jumps Houston
The Houston Rockets were a Chris Paul injury away and a horrible three point shooting night away from dethroning the Warriors last season. This year was a bit tougher, but they rebounded well and many still see them as the second best team out west. They finished the season at 53-29. The 53-28 Denver Nuggets are ahead of them and the 52-29 Portland Trail Blazers are behind them. For Portland to jump past Houston into the No. 3 spot, they have to beat the Sacramento Kings AND have the Nuggets beat the Minnesota Timber Wolves. We’re calling that happening. Houston will fall to the No. 4 spot, setting up a matchup with the Utah Jazz. Portland nabs the No. 3 spot, which they had last year before getting swept in the first round.
1. Charlotte Wins, But Doesn’t Get In
The biggest question left on this final day surrounds the bottom of the Eastern Conference playoff race. The Brooklyn Nets and Orlando Magic both clinched berths with big turnarounds from last season. Though positioning is still a question, they’re in. The last spot will either go to the Detroit Pistons or the Charlotte Hornets. For the Hornets to clinch, they must defeat the Magic and have the Pistons lose to the New York Knicks. Kemba Walker will have a fantastic game and lead Charlotte to victory. However, we can’t count on the Knicks. They’ll fall to the Pistons, meaning Detroit clinches over Charlotte. If all this happens and the Nets win, not only will Detroit get in, but they’ll move to the No. 7 seed, while Orlando lands in eighth place.