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What’s at stake for the NBA playoff race and draft lottery on the final day of the NBA regular season?

Two teams are competing for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, and it will go down to the wire. Only one playoff matchup is set in either conference, with plenty of movement still possible.

The tank race has heated up, especially with traded and protected picks still very much up in the air.

Here are the games to follow, what they mean and how ESPN’s Basketball Power Index (BPI) projects it all to finish.

More: Power Rankings | Top 100 prospects | Traded picks


East playoff race

Games to watch

• Magic at Hornets | 8 p.m. ET (ESPN)
• Pistons at Knicks | 8 p.m. ET
• Heat at Nets | 8 p.m. ET

The Detroit Pistons (40-41) and Charlotte Hornets (39-42) are battling for the 16th playoff spot, and the Hornets own the tiebreaker. If the Pistons win or the Hornets lose, Detroit is in. Charlotte needs a win and a Detroit loss to grab the spot.

After the Pistons’ win on Tuesday, the Miami Heat are officially out of the playoffs.

What’s at stake: If the Nets win, they’ll earn the No. 6 seed and a matchup with the Philadelphia 76ers (No. 3). The Nets also can earn No. 6 with a loss if the Hornets make the playoffs over the Pistons. If the Nets lose and the Pistons make the playoffs, Brooklyn will be the No. 7 seed, facing the Toronto Raptors (No. 2).

What’s at stake: The Magic will clinch No. 6 if the Nets lose and the Pistons make the playoffs.

The Charlotte Hornets have won four straight and eight of their last 11 games to get in position to make the playoffs, but need a win tonight over Orlando and a Detroit loss to the New York Knicks to slip in as the eighth seed. “We just have not given in,’’ Hornets coach James Borrego said prior to the regular season-finale at the Spectrum Center. “We could have easily given in 12, 15 games ago. A lot of people wrote us off. We just haven’t given in. The resiliency is there. The toughness is there.’’

David Newton, ESPN Staff Writer3h ago

What’s at stake: The Pistons clinch a playoff spot with a win.

Blake Griffin will not play on Wednesday against the Knicks, Dwane Casey says.

Ian Begley, ESPN Staff Writer4h ago

Detroit is holding New York to 39 percent shooting in the first half – including 3-for-13 from beyond the arc – and leads by 24. Barring a major collapse in the second half, the Pistons will secure a playoff berth and eliminate Charlotte from the playoffs.

Ian Begley, ESPN Staff Writer1h ago

Most likely playoff matchups

  • (1) Bucks vs. (8) Pistons (61 percent chance)

  • (2) Raptors vs. (7) Magic (48 percent chance)

  • (3) 76ers vs. (6) Nets (49 percent chance)

  • (4) Celtics vs. (5) Pacers (locked in)


West playoff race

The eight Western Conference playoff teams have been locked in for weeks, but the seeding will go down to the wire.

Games with the most at stake

• Mavericks at Spurs | 8 p.m. ET
• Thunder at Bucks | 8 p.m. ET
• Jazz at Clippers | 10:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)
• Timberwolves at Nuggets | 10:30 p.m. ET
• Kings at Blazers | 10:30 p.m. ET

What’s at stake: The Oklahoma City Thunder will clinch the No. 6 seed with a win or a Spurs loss. The Thunder will drop to No. 7 with a loss combined with wins by the Spurs and Jazz. An OKC loss combined with wins by the Spurs and Clippers will drop the Thunder to No. 8.

What’s at stake: The San Antonio Spurs will clinch No. 6 with a win and an OKC loss. A Spurs win plus an OKC win will drop San Antonio to No. 7, and so will a loss combined with a Jazz win. A San Antonio loss plus a Clippers win will drop the Spurs to No. 8.

The Spurs honored Dirk Nowitzki with a pregame tribute video that caused the retiring legend to cry, but the regular-season finale is serious business for San Antonio. Led by Dallas native LaMarcus Aldridge’s 14 points, the Spurs have a 30-16 lead over the Mavericks after a quarter.

Tim MacMahon, ESPN Staff Writer2h ago

What’s at stake: The Denver Nuggets will clinch the No. 2 seed with a win, and the Houston Rockets will get No. 2 if the Nuggets lose, dropping Denver to No. 3.

What’s at stake: The LA Clippers will finish No. 8 unless they win and at least one of the Spurs or Thunder lose, in which case LA will move up to No. 7.

Jazz head coach Quin Snyder on Western Conference playoff matchups being decided on the final night of the regular season: “To me, it’s a reflection of how good a lot of teams are that are in our conference. Trying to figure it all out is hard. We’ve got like 10 pages of spreadsheets that have been reduced to one page. You try to figure it out and what you realize is that most of it, you can’t control anyways. You do what you can do to get ready.”

Baxter Holmes, ESPN Senior Writer59m ago

What’s at stake: Houston will be the No. 3 seed if Denver wins and the Portland Trail Blazers lose, but a Denver win combined with a Portland win will drop Houston to No. 4, with the Blazers clinching No. 3.

Most likely playoff matchups

  • (1) Warriors vs. (8) Clippers (58 percent chance)

  • (2) Nuggets vs. (7) Spurs (35 percent chance)

  • (3) Blazers vs. (6) Thunder (23 percent chance)

  • (4) Rockets vs. (5) Jazz (56 percent chance)




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