The final week of the NBA season is always an ongoing tussle for playoff position, with pivotal seedings up for grabs and the final spots often still far from decided late in the campaign.
When it all wrapped up on Wednesday evening, there were some late shocks that resulted in some different first-round playoff pairings than expected.
The West’s 2-3-4 positions threw up the wildest developments of all, starting the night seemingly locked in the order of Denver-Portland-Houston, going completely haywire, then ending up back at square one again.
For a while it looked like the Rockets, apparently certain to find themselves on the second-round collision course with the Golden State Warriors, could leapfrog all the way up to the two spot. That scenario looked likely when Portland trailed by 25 at halftime against Sacramento after resting Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, and Denver fell behind late at home to Minnesota.
Ultimately, both games turned around and the favorites prevailed, leaving Denver in the second spot with a first-round clash against the San Antonio Spurs, Portland a tough assignment against Oklahoma City, and the Rockets with the Utah Jazz — perhaps followed by that potential Warriors rematch.
In the East, the Detroit Pistons survived a late-season stumble to clinch a playoff spot, but just two weeks after looking secure as the sixth seed, they dropped to eighth and must meet the Milwaukee Bucks. The Brooklyn Nets are in form and may like their chances of giving the Philadelphia 76ers a run for their money in the opening round, while the challenges of the Miami Heat and Charlotte Hornets fell away over the final few days of the campaign.
First-round matchups NBA playoffs
Eastern Conference NBA playoffs
(1) Milwaukee Bucks vs. (8) Detroit Pistons
(2) Toronto Raptors vs. (7) Orlando Magic
(3) Philadelphia 76ers vs. (6) Brooklyn Nets
(4) Boston Celtics vs. (5) Indiana Pacers
Western Conference NBA playoffs
(1) Golden State Warriors vs. (8) Los Angeles Clippers
(2) Denver Nuggets vs. (7) San Antonio Spurs
(3) Portland Trail Blazers vs. (6) Oklahoma City Thunder
(4) Houston Rockets vs. (5) Utah Jazz