It’s the final day of the 2022-23 regular season! All the 30 teams will play their 82nd and final game of the season today.
In all, 5 different playoff seeds will be decided by today’s games, but only one game actually pits both teams fighting for the same spot in the standings: Pelicans vs. Timberwolves.
Kevin Durant’s Phoenix Suns are 45-36, locked into the 4th seed in the West playoff picture. Their first round opponent is still undetermined, but will almost certainly be one of the Golden State Warriors or the LA Clippers.
All the Clips need is a win. If the LA Clippers win today over the Suns, they will nab the 5th seed and become the Suns first round opponent in the 2023 Playoffs.
The Suns have already decided to rest all their starters this weekend to reduce the chance of any new injuries to the starting lineup. For the first time all year, the quadrant of Durant, Chris Paul, Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton have been healthy and in the lineup together for more than a week. Those four, along with Josh Okogie, are one of the most talented five-man lineups in the league.
Why rest them today? Because how mad would we be if someone got hurt today in a meaningless game? Durant has already missed half the season and Booker has missed a third of it. We don’t need any new injuries on a meaningless day. Just Friday night, we saw Bismack Biyombo (knee) and Cameron Payne (tailbone) suffer injuries filling in for Paul and Ayton. We’ll find out more on their status for the playoffs this morning.
Bottom line: the Suns need to encase their top four in bubble wrap for the next week, and whatever happens today happens.
So, the Clippers will get to face a highly depleted Suns team. If the Clips somehow lose this game to the Suns, they will likely drop all the way to the play-in due to tiebreakers with the Lakers and Pelicans and no one wants to be subjected to the one-game nature of the Play-In. Just last year, the Clippers dropped to the Play-in and went home in the blink of an eye.
So the Clippers need this game. But if they somehow lose it, the Warriors can take the 5th seed with a win over the super-tank Blazers today in Portland.
The Blazers (33-48) are working very hard to hold onto their 5th-best odds in the 2022 NBA Draft Lottery. They are just one game ahead of the also-tanking Indiana Pacers and Orlando Magic with one game to play. A win on Sunday would give the Pacers and Magic the same odds for a top pick, further flattening down the already-flattened lottery odds.
In other news, the Timberwolves, Pelicans and Lakers are vying for the 7th-9th seeds, with the Thunder locked into 10th. The Pels and Lakers can only move up into the top 6 if one of the Clips or Warriors loses a game their opponents are handing to them. The Wolves can take 8th with a win over the Pelicans today.
The 7th and 8th seeds play each other on the 7th-seed’s home court on Tuesday. Winner gets the 7th seed and will play the Grizzlies in the first round. Loser of the 7-8 game hosts the winner of the 9-10 game, and whoever wins THAT game gets the 8th seed and plays the Denver Nuggets in round one.
The 5th to 9th seeds in the West will be decided in today’s games.
Buckle up, fans.