With several seeds undecided before the final day of the 2020-21 NBA season, teams had a lot to play for on Sunday.
Because the Miami Heat lost to the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday night, the New York Knicks had a path to fourth place. Following Sunday’s victory over the Boston Celtics, the Knickerbockers will open the playoffs at Madison Square Garden next week.
The Brooklyn Nets needed a win over the Cleveland Cavaliers to clinch the No.2 seed after Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving played just eight games together all season. Harden sat down on Sunday, leaving the Nets with a star-studded duo to wrap up the Eastern Conference’s second best record.
The Portland Trail Blazers beat the Denver Nuggets to avoid the play-in tournament, which kept the Los Angeles Lakers in seventh place. The defending champions must face a tough opponent in order to lock in their current place in the playoff picture.
Let’s take a look at the final standings, the playoffs, and a look at a must-see play-in match.
NBA Final Ranking
Philadelphia 76ers: 49-23
Filets de Brooklyn: 48-24
Knicks de New York: 41-31
Celtics de Boston: 36-36
Raptors de Toronto: 27-45
Bucks de Milwaukee: 46-26
Indiana Pacers: 34-38
Chicago Bulls: 31-41
Cavaliers de Cleveland: 22-50
Detroit Pistons: 20-52
Atlanta Hawks: 41-31
Miami Heat: 40-32
Wizards de Washington: 34-38
Charlotte Hornets: 33-39
Orlando Magic: 21-51
North West Division
Utah Jazz: 52-20
Denver Nuggets: 47-25
Portland Trail Blazers: 42-30
Minnesota Timberwolves: 23-49
Oklahoma City Thunder: 22-50
Phoenix Suns: 51-21
LA Clippers: 47-25
Los Angeles Lakers: 42-30
Golden State Warriors: 39-33
Kings of Sacramento: 31-41
Dallas Mavericks: 42-30
Memphis Grizzlies: 38-34
San Antonio Spurs: 33-39
New Orleans Pelicans: 31-41
Houston Rockets: 17-55
2021 Playoff Seeds, Matchups, Play-In Tournaments
No. 1 of Philadelphia 76ers vs. TBD
# 2 Brooklyn Nets vs. TBD
N ° 3 Milwaukee Bucks contre N ° 6 Miami Heat
N ° 4 New York Knicks vs N ° 5 Atlanta Hawks
Eastern Conference Play-In Tournament
NBA on TNT @NBAonTNT
The Eastern Conference #StateFarmPlayIn tournament is locked 🔒 # 10 @hornets vs # 9 @Pacers | TUE at 6:30 p.m. ET on TNT # 8 @WashWizards vs # 7 @celtics | TUE at 9 p.m. ET on TNT https://t.co/LBUOqW6WgN
# 1 Utah Jazz against TBD
# 2 Phoenix Suns versus TBD
Denver’s No.3 Nuggets vs. No.6 Portland Trail Blazers
N ° 4 LA Clippers vs N ° 5 Dallas Mavericks
Western Conference Play-In Tournament
🚨 West #StateFarmPlayIn tournament matches are ready! 🚨 # 10 @spurs vs # 9 @memgrizz – Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. / and on ESPN # 8 @warriors vs # 7 @Lakers – Wednesday at 10 p.m. / and on ESPN Who have you got?
Graine Knicks Clinch n ° 4
Vincent Carchietta / Associated press
Earlier this week, the Knicks clinched their first playoff spot since the 2012-13 season. On Sunday, they took the field advantage in the first round of the playoffs, edging the Celtics 96-92.
Tom Thibodeau is expected to grab attention in the Coach of the Year discussion following the Knicks’ quick turnaround from a 2019-20 campaign to 21 wins.
Under Thibodeau, New York has made significant progress in defense, dropping from 23rd (113) to third (108.3) in defensive odds over the past two quarters. He also found a main playmaker in forward Julius Randle.
This season, Randle earned his first All-Star nod, averaging 24.1 points, 10.2 rebounds and six assists per game, all career highs. However, he didn’t lead the Knicks alone in the playoffs.
RJ Barrett made progress in his sophomore year, especially in shooting efficiency. He shot 40 percent from three-pointers and increased his free throw conversion rate from 61.4 to 74.6 percent. In February, the Knicks acquired Derrick Rose from the Detroit Pistons, and he became a closer for a team that struggled to score late in the game.
The Knicks have a tough challenge. They will face the Atlanta Hawks, who have won their last four games. Entering the series, New York should have some confidence after beating the Hawks in all three clashes this season.
Match de Play-in Lakers contre Warriors
Jeff Chiu / Associated Press
Before the first round begins, we’ll see some play-in tournament matches next week. The Lakers vs. Warriors battle will likely attract the most eyeballs.
Warriors goalie Stephen Curry won his second title, scoring 46 points in a win over the Grizzlies on Sunday. Meanwhile, the Lakers ended the campaign with a victory over the Pelicans. Most importantly, LeBron James and Anthony Davis showed up for this contest.
Between February and April, Davis missed 32 games with a calf and Achilles injury. Since March 20, James has only made four outings. He has struggled with a persistent problem with his right ankle and may have tweaked it late in Sunday’s game.
The Lakers have the best defensive rating in the league (107.2). They will force Curry to win every bucket. The 2020-2021 Scoring Champion needs Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole to help as side scorers with Draymond Green as the ultimate playmaker.
The Warriors’ top five defensive scores (110.2) suggest we could see a low scoring battle if James and Davis are limited with lingering injuries.
The battle for the seventh seed will feature all-star power, a scoring leader and two technically strong defenses for a game not to be missed.
Keep in mind that as a team with the best record, Los Angeles needs a win while Golden State would need to win twice to move up to seventh in the playoff table.
Statistics obtained from Basketball reference.
Maurice Moton covers the NBA and NFL for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter, @MoeMoton.