Should the Blazers, Lakers, Clippers, Nuggets and Mavs win or tank their last game?


The NBA regular season will end Sunday, May 16th but until then, try to not get lost running through scenarios in your head. 

That's what this article is for.

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No. 1 and No. 2 seeds in the West

Utah can clinch the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference with a win over Sacramento. Phoenix needs to sweep a back-to-back at San Antonio and have Utah lose to the Kings to get the No. 1 seed. 

Phoenix has clinched at least the No. 2 seed. 

San Antonio is locked into the tenth seed and has all the incentive to rest its best players in both games against the Suns. 

Phoenix defeated San Antonio in the first of the back-to-back. 

No. 3 and No. 4 seeds in the West

The No. 3 seed will be either the Denver Nuggets or Los Angeles Clippers. Both teams are tied at 47-24 with one game remaining and Denver holding the tiebreaker. 

Denver clinches the No. 3 seed with a win at Portland on Sunday. Los Angeles clinches the No. 4 seed with a loss at Oklahoma City. If the Thunder win, then the Clippers can likely avoid the Lakers until the Western Conference Finals, assuming the Lakers do not fall to No. 8 due to the play-in tournament. 

If the Clippers defeat OKC and Denver loses to Portland, then the Clippers will be the No. 3 seed and Denver will be the No. 4 seed.

If Denver wants to avoid the Lakers in the first round, the Nuggets can lose the final game against Portland to ensure a matchup with either Portland or Dallas in the first round. 


Odds according to SportsRadar:

Clippers: No. 3: 63.621%, No. 4: 36.379%

Nuggets: No. 3: 36.379%, No. 4: 63.621%

No. 5, No. 6, and No. 7 seeds in the West

Here is where it gets complicated. 

Heading into Sunday's games, here's where the standings are.

5. Dallas Mavericks (42-29) | Remaining Games: @ MIN

6. Portland Trail Blazers (41-30, 1.0 GB) | Remaining Games: DEN 

7. Los Angeles Lakers (41-30, 1.0 GB) | Remaining Games: @ NOP

Let's take it step-by-step.

After defeating Indiana Saturday, the Lakers will need to defeat New Orleans and Portland needs to lose to Denver to avoid the play-in tournament. Denver may want to lose against Portland to ensure a first-round matchup with the Lakers does not happen. 

The Lakers can advance as high as No. 6 with a win versus New Orleans along with Portland losing. Los Angeles cannot catch up to Dallas for the No. 5 seed due to losing the head-to-head tiebreaker.

If the Lakers lose to New Orleans, they are locked into the No. 7 seed and will be in the play-in tournament. 

If the Lakers defeat New Orleans, Dallas loses to Minnesota and Portland wins against Denver, then Dallas will earn the fifth seed, Portland would get the sixth and the Lakers would be the seventh in a 3-way tie. 

If Dallas loses to Minnesota, then Portland can earn the fifth seed with a win over Denver and a loss from the Lakers. 

In short,

  • Dallas wins, Portland wins: No. 5 Dallas, No. 6 Portland, No. 7 Lakers
  • Dallas loses, Portland wins, Lakers win: No. 5 Dallas, No. 6 Portland, No. 7 Lakers
  • Dallas wins, Portland loses, Lakers win: No. 5 Dallas, No. 6 Lakers, No. 7 Portland
  • Dallas loses, Portland loses, Lakers win: No. 5 Dallas, No. 6 Lakers, No. 7 Portland
  • Dallas loses, Portland wins, Lakers lose: No. 5 Portland. No. 6 Dallas, No. 7 Lakers


Portland owns the tiebreaker over both Dallas and Los Angeles due to winning each season series 2-1.

However, a 3-way tie between the teams would result in the Blazers getting the sixth seed due to Dallas winning a 3-way tiebreaker due to being a division winner. 

Dallas owns the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Lakers.

Odds according to SportsRadar:

Blazers Odds: No. 5: 1.747%, No. 6: 78.071%, No. 7: 20.182%

Lakers: No. 6: 20.182%, No. 7: 79.818% 

Mavericks: No. 5 98.363%, No. 6 1.747% 

No. 8 and No. 9 Seeds in the West

The winner of Memphis at Golden State on Sunday will get the eighth seed and have two chances to win a game in the play-in tournament. The loser will need to win two games to make the postseason.

Schedule of Remaining Games

Sunday, May 16th:

Phoenix Suns at San Antonio Spurs: 11:00 a.m. PT

Memphis Grizzlies at Golden State Warriors: 12:30 p.m. PT

Dallas Mavericks at Minnesota Timberwolves: 6:00 p.m. PT

Los Angeles Lakers at New Orleans Pelicans: 6:00 p.m. PT

Denver Nuggets at Portland Trail Blazers: 6:00 p.m. PT