The final night of the NBA’s regular season can be a dark, scary place for bettors. Who’s in? Who’s out? What’s on the line? Are they just rolling basketballs out there. Consider the content below your handy survival guide.
Miami at Boston, 8:05 p.m. ET, ESPN: The Heat are looking to wrap up the Southeast Division and the Eastern Conference’s No. 3 seed and will do so with a victory. A loss really complicates matters, since different combinations exist that could have them finishing 5 or 6. The Celtics are hoping to finish at No. 4 so they can open a playoff series at home, but they could finish fifth or sixth with a loss. As a result, this is the one game we have tonight where both teams won’t rest anyone healthy enough to play. On that note, Justise Winslow missed Tuesday’s win over Detroit with an ankle sprain but expressed his intention to play here if possible. No game tonight should pack the intensity this one brings to the table, giving us an early postseason feel. Boston has won both meetings between these teams, winning by double-digits on Nov. 30 and Feb. 27.
Sacramento at Houston, 8:05 p.m. ET: The Rockets can thank Utah’s collapse for the opportunity to make the playoffs with a .500 record by holding serve as a double-digit favorite here. They can thank the Kings resting DeMarcus Cousins, Rajon Rondo, Darren Collison, Marco Belinelli and Omri Casspi to lighten the load, although the same group that takes the floor tonight won in Phoenix as a 6-point underdog on Monday. Seth Curry finished with 20 points and 15 assists and will be the focal point of tonight’s Sacramento attack, which makes Patrick Beverley a critical x-factor for Houston. Rudy Gay, Ben McLemore and centers Willy Cauley-Stein and Kosta Koufos will carry the Jazz’s hopes with them, since a Rockets win will eliminate them before their game at Staples Center ever tips.
San Antonio at Dallas, 8:05 p.m. ET: Gregg Popovich is sure to sit all of his key rotation players after many worked into OT to defeat OKC on Tuesday, so expect a heavy dose of Patty Mills, Kevin Martin Kyle Anderson and Boban Marjanovic. It will be interesting to see if David West is forced to play, but Pop will definitely field a short-handed group. He will get Boris Diaw back from a groin injury that has cost him the last five games, so this one will be for him to get some conditioning work in. The Mavericks will be the No. 5 seed with a Portland loss, and No. 6 otherwise with a victory.
New Orleans at Minnesota, 8:05 p.m. ET: The Pelicans will again be without F/C Alexis Ajinca, which means they’ll end their injury-ravaged season with just eight players. James Ennis scored a career-high 29 points in Monday’s 121-116 loss to Chicago and are down to just two big men, Omer Asik and Kendrick Perkins. The Timberwolves had a season-high three-game winning streak snapped at home in Houston, but should have everybody in play tonight.
Toronto at Brooklyn, 8:05 p.m. ET: The Raptors outscored the 76ers 67-37 in the second half of Tuesday’s 122-98 comeback win, but played 11 guys and won’t come anywhere near that number in Brooklyn. Having wrapped up the No. 2 seed over a week ago and unable to move up since the Cavs clinched the top spot in the East on Monday, Dwane Casey will be looking to get through these 48 minutes and is already preparing for a first-round series against Indiana this weekend. The Nets have dropped nine consecutive games and haven’t won since March 24. They’ve surrendered 120.6 points over the past four games, all of which have gone over the posted total.
Atlanta at Washington, 8:05 p.m. ET: John Wall and Bradley Beal are likely to close the season in suits, leaving the Wizards short-handed as they attempt to avoid a losing season by winning a third straight. They’re also looking to split the season series with the Hawks, which would in turn do the Heat a solid if they’re unable to take care of business in Boston. Despite coming from the school of Popovich, Mike Budenholzer should have everybody available as Atlanta looks to claim a second consecutive Southeast Division title if it gets help from the Celtics. The Hawks will be shooting for their 109th win over a two-year stretch, the most prosperous run in franchise history.
Indiana at Milwaukee, 8:05 p.m. ET: After rallying to handle a Carmelo Anthony-less Knicks squad that hung 36 points in the first quarter, the Pacers benefited from Miami’s win in Auburn Hills, wrapping up the No. 7 and officially avoiding a first-round date with Cleveland. It remains to be seen who Frank Vogel turns to, but you can count on Paul George, Monta Ellis and George Hill sitting this one out. Ty Lawson has been effective of late, so this may be an opportunity for him to continue carving out playing time. The Bucks are 1-2 this season against the Pacers, winning in Indianapolis on Dec. 31. Giannis Antetokounmpo has slowed down of late after a monster run, but is still averaging 21.0 points 9.2 rebounds and 7.5 assists in April.
Detroit at Cleveland, 8:05 p.m. ET: These teams will turn around and face each other in an extremely meaningful playoff contest this weekend, so count on both teams going through the motions and displaying nothing of significance while playing very few regulars. Reggie Jackson missed Tuesday’s loss to Miami and will again sit with an ab strain, so look for Spencer Dinwiddie and Jordan McRae to play major roles. If you ever wanted to see Aron Baynes featured, defended by Sasha Kaun no less, this is your lucky day. The Pistons have won two of the three meetings between the teams so far.
Philadelphia at Chicago, 8:05 p.m. ET: The season comes to a merciful end for both of these teams. The 10-win 76ers are the NBA’s biggest travesty. The Bulls are its biggest underachivers. A win would allow Chicago to finish 42-40 in Fred Hoiberg’s first season, but considering this will be the worst mark since Vinny Del Negro went 41-41 in consecutive seasons before being let go in 2010, that’s not saying much. Jimmy Butler is choosing to play out the string because he feels he’s missed enough time as it is, having been absent for 15 games this season. Pau Gasol, Derrick Rose, Taj Gibson and E’Twuan Moore have all been ruled out. Philadelphia is headed for the second-worst finish in NBA history and will sport a 3-38 road record with another loss here. The ‘over’ has prevailed in the last three Sixers games.
Orlando at Charlotte, 8:05 p.m. ET: Nikola Vucevic sat out the Magic’s home finale with a bruised right leg and may sit this one out too. Fellow starters Victor Oladipo and Aaron Gordon have been out, stuck in concussion protocol, so the Magic are likely to be shorthanded as they face former assistant Steve Clifford as they aim to split the season series between these Southeast Division rivals. The Hornets lose the majority of tiebreakers so they’re looking at opening the postseason on the road as either the No. 5 or No. 6 seed. Nicolas Batum left Monday’s upset in Boston with a sprained ankle and likely won’t play here. F/C Cody Zeller is also probably out with a chest injury. The ‘over’ has hit in the last four Charlotte games.
Memphis at Golden State, 10:35 p.m. ET, ESPN: Every one of the Warriors wants to be a part of history, so odds are good that Steve Kerr will find a way to get everybody into this potentially historic game as they look for their record-setting 73rd win. The Grizzlies nearly defeated Memphis on Saturday night, squandering a substantial late lead and ultimately falling in OT. We’ll see how seriously the Grizzlies take this rematch when Tony Allen’s availability is determined. He sat out last night’s loss at the L.A. Clippers with a sore hamstring, so if he’s out there defending on the perimeter, you can bet the Griz are embracing being the potential gate-keepers of history. Barring a win and a Dallas loss, Memphis will be the No. 7 seed, opening the playoffs in San Antonio.
Utah at L.A. Lakers, 10:35 p.m. ET, ESPN2: Kobe Bryant’s farewell game is going to be riveting for that reason alone, but will only carry postseason implications if the Rockets failed to defeat depleted Sacramento. The Jazz will undoubtedly be watching pre-game, so they may be a dejected bunch with nothing to play for come tip-off. They’ll definitely be without center Rudy Gobert, who left Monday’s crippling home loss to Dallas with a badly sprained ankle and didn’t travel to L.A. Derrick Favors is playing through a knee injury, but came off the bench against the Mavs and is obviously not 100 percent. If Utah is eliminated, don’t expect to see him suit up. Bryant, who will likely get in 20-plus shots in this one for old time’s sake, will be out there as long as he wants to be, according to head coach Byron Scott. Bryant scored 35 points, his second-largest output of the season, in just 27 minutes in Sunday’s 130-110 loss in Houston. He’ll want to put on one last show at Staples and will probably play over 35 minutes for the first time since early December. Monty McCutchen, David Guthrie and ex-guard turned ref Haywoode Workman will officiate his final game.
Denver at Portland, 10:35 p.m. ET: The Trail Blazers would lose a tie-breaker to the Mavericks if the teams finish with identical records, so they need a home win here to wrap up the No. 5 seed. The Nuggets are unlikely to play Kenneth Faried, who has sat out the past two games. Denver has lost two of its last eight games and is 1-2 against Portland this season.
L.A. Clippers at Phoenix, 10:35 p.m. ET: Following last night’s dominant win over Memphis, Doc Rivers announced that Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, J.J. Redick, Paul Pierce and Jamal Crawford will all sit here. The Suns could fall into their third victory in four tries to end the season, which would help avoid a 60th loss.