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NBA Enters Final Week of Regular Season

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:
May/12/2021

The NBA’s play-in tournament begins on May 18, and we still aren’t sure exactly who is in, who isn’t, and what other storylines might emerge as the league wraps up its season on Sunday.

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Eastern Conference Playoffs

The Sixers are your top seed in the East, barring something unforeseen in the final week. And right now, it appears that the other teams safely above the seventh-seed threshold are the Nets, Bucks, Knicks, Hawks, and Heat.

Boston seems bound for the seventh seed and a date with Charlotte in the play-in tournament. The Wizards are close to wrapping up the ninth seed, and the 10th seed is Indiana’s if it can win a game in this final week.

PlayoffStatus.com calculates the odds of each team making the playoffs, and it gives the Bulls just a 4% chance of catching Indiana. The long-shot Bulls carry huge 250-to-1 odds at the sportsbook to win the Eastern Conference.

Western Conference Playoffs

The Jazz are currently the top seed in the West, although Phoenix still has a chance to take it. The Clippers and Nuggets are battling it out for the three and four seeds, while the Mavericks and Trail Blazers currently sit fifth and sixth, respectively.

Right now, it’s the Lakers and Warriors squaring off in the play-in tournament as the seventh and eighth seeds, although LeBron James is expected to return from his ankle injury, and Los Angeles could still get the sixth.

The Grizzlies can catch the Warriors at eight, and that could come down to the final Sunday when Memphis is at Golden State.

The Spurs seem locked into the 10th seed since they own the tiebreaker over the Pelicans, and New Orleans is without Zion Williamson.

NBA Lottery

The NBA lottery system in place since 2019 gives each of the three worst teams in the regular season an equal 14% chance to win the top pick.

That current worst team is the Houston Rockets, and it’s not particularly close. They are certain to get one of the bottom three spots and probably the very bottom spot. Things get interesting from there.

Detroit is in second from the bottom with 20 wins through Monday. But four other teams sit at 21 wins - Cleveland, Orlando, Oklahoma City, and Minnesota. Of those five teams not named the Rockets, only two will get the maximum 14% chance at the top pick. Two of those teams will have a less than 10% chance at the top prize.

A final week of tanking should be fun to watch.

Scoring Title Battle

Stephen Curry is currently in line to win his second scoring title and complete one of the greatest comebacks in history. He played just five games last season because of a broken left hand.

Curry’s 31.9 points per game is a career high and leads Washington’s Bradley Beal (31.4) by 0.5 ppg. Beal is currently hurt but could come back at the end of the week and possibly catch Curry. But considering the Warriors are playing meaningful games all week, Curry will be giving it his all and is likely to maintain his lead.

Sixers center Joel Embiid is third in scoring at 29.2, and with Philadelphia close to wrapping up the top seed, his minutes this week will likely be limited.

MVP Race

It’s hard to see the MVP going to anyone other than Nikola Jokic of the Nuggets. He’s averaging 26.4 points, 10.8 rebounds, 8.5 assists, and is shooting .863 from the free-throw line.

He’s also been terrific down the stretch and against top competition. In May, he scored 30 points against the Clippers, 32 against the Lakers, 32 against the Knicks, and 29 against the Nets.

Joel Embiid should be the MVP runner-up when all the votes are in. He’s led the Sixers to the top seed in the East by going for at least 30 points and 10 rebounds in 16 games this season.

Giannis Antetokounmpo will also be among the top MVP vote-getters. Like Embiid, he went for at least 30 and 10 in 16 games this season. Giannis also went for 49 and 36 in two straight games against the Nets this month.

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