Final night open thread

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

On the final night of the NBA season, the East is pretty much settled, but positions three through nine in the West are still up in the air.

I'm not going to list the full schedule. Every team is playing, there are 15 games, and most of them don't matter or at least don't matter much. For instance, in the East the most interesting games involve teams that probably want to lose -- the Magic and Bobcats are currently both tied for the worst record in the NBA, so they each increase their lottery odds by losing. The there's the race for the fifth seed in the East. The Hawks and Bulls are currently tied, but the 'reward' for finishing fifth is Brooklyn in the first round and Miami in the second round. The sixth seed, which will face Indiana in the first round and New York in the second round, would seem to be far preferable. So even teams that have something to play for, are really trying to lose. There are literally no Eastern conference teams that care about winning tonight.

In contrast to the East, there are five games involving seven teams in the West that matter a very great deal.

Utah at Memphis, 5:00 PM, ESPN

Phoenix at Denver, 5:00 PM

Houston at LA Lakers, 7:30 PM, ESPN, Time Warner Sports

LA Clippers at Sacramento, 7:30 PM, Prime Ticket

Golden State at Portland, 7:30 PM

Utah and Memphis both have something to play for in the early game on ESPN. The Jazz will be eliminated from playoff contention with a loss, but a win puts the pressure on the Lakers. Memphis meanwhile still has a shot at home court advantage with a win combined with a Clippers loss in Sacramento. However, there's a chance Memphis may have already conceded home court: in their last game their starters watched from the bench the entire fourth quarter as a ragtag bench unit beat the Mavericks.

Denver can clinch the three seed in the West with a win over Phoenix, but a loss puts them in danger of falling behind the Clippers. The Nuggets have won 22 straight home games and Phoenix has the worst record in the West, so it's hard to imagine a Suns win, but you never know.

The most significant game of the night features the Lakers and the Rockets in STAPLES Center. The Lakers could finish as the seven seed with a win, or could be the eight seed or even out of the playoffs with a loss. Meanwhile, the Rockets would drop to eight if they lose. Since the eight seed meets red-hot Oklahoma City in the first round, while the seven seed draws the injury-riddled Spurs, it's definitely preferable to climb up to seven. So both teams are going to want this win, regardless of what happens in the other games. In the Lakers case, it becomes make-or-break if Utah happens to win in the earlier game.

Finally, Golden State needs a win over Portland to hang on to the sixth seed in the West. Then again, given how hot Denver has been and how cold San Antonio has been, the Warriors probably don't care all that much whether they win or lose tonight.

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