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Pivotal Games in NBA Regular Season Final Week

The NBA’s 2022/23 regular season wraps up on April 9, meaning there are just a few days left in the season.

Here are a few things worth keeping an eye on in the coming days:

Eastern Conference

Frankly, the race for the playoffs in the East would have been more exciting under the NBA’s old system, where only the top eight seeds at the end of the regular season made the playoffs. Currently, the Hawks and Raptors are tied for the No. 8 spot at 39-39 (Atlanta has the tiebreaker advantage), while the Bulls are one game back at 38-40. It’s a safe bet that all three teams will make the play-in tournament, whereas in past years they would’ve been fighting for a single playoff spot.

Of course, there’s still some intrigue related to which team finishes in which slot. The No. 8 team at the end of the regular season gets two chances to win one play-in game to earn a playoff berth, whereas the Nos. 9 and 10 teams need to win two games to make the playoffs. The No. 10 club would have to win two play-in games on the road.

Further up the Eastern Conference standings, there’s currently a gap of at least two games between each of the top seven teams, so even though those seeds aren’t set in stone yet, they’re getting close to being locked in, barring some late surges or slumps.

Notable remaining intra-conference games:

4/4: Celtics at Sixers, Hawks at Bulls

4/5: Raptors at Celtics, Bulls at Bucks

4/6: Heat at Sixers

4/7: Sixers at Hawks, Raptors at Celtics

4/9: Hawks at Celtics, Sixers at Nets, Bucks at Raptors

Western Conference

As has been the case for months, the Western standings are more tightly bunched than the East’s. The Nos. 5-8 seeds are only separated by a half-game, for instance, and 12 teams technically remain in the playoff picture or play-in hunt.

The Clippers and Warriors are both 41-38 and currently hold the fifth and sixth spots in the Western Conference standings, but if they want to avoid the play-in tournament, they’ll have to hold off the surging Lakers and Pelicans, who are both 40-38.

The No. 10 Thunder (38-41) are currently in the driver’s seat for the final play-in spot. They have a one-game lead over the 11th-place Mavericks (37-42) and a 1.5-game cushion on the 12th-place Jazz (36-42) and hold the tiebreaker over both teams. Oklahoma City’s remaining schedule is no cakewalk though, with road games in Golden State and Utah following by a home game vs. Memphis.

Notable remaining intra-conference games:

4/4: Kings at Pelicans, Lakers at Jazz, Thunder at Warriors

4/5: Grizzlies at Pelicans, Kings at Mavericks, Lakers at Clippers

4/6: Thunder at Jazz, Nuggets at Suns

4/7: Warriors at Kings, Suns at Lakers

4/9: Pelicans at Timberwolves, Grizzlies at Thunder, Kings at Nuggets, Jazz at Lakers, Clippers at Suns

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