NBA Playoffs: Dramatic season end will determine 11 seeds and all series pairings

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - DECEMBER 23:(EDITORS NOTE: Image has been converted to black and white.) Donovan Mitchell
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - DECEMBER 23:(EDITORS NOTE: Image has been converted to black and white.) Donovan Mitchell /
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OKC Thunder, NBA Playoffs
HOUSTON, TX – APRIL 07: Paul George #13 of the OKC Thunder drives to the basket defended by James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets in the second half at Toyota Center on April 7, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /

Finale Fever:

While there are 12 games only eight will have a direct impact on the NBA Playoffs. Four games in each conference will determine seedings and seure first round matches. Fittingly, the last game of the night could affect more than half the west’s final landing on the ladder.

Three games will tip off at 8:00 PM, ET:

Denver Nuggets at Minnesota Timberwolves:

This match determines who takes the final playoff berth. Booking that ticket doesn’t necessarily mean the winning team will face the Rockets in the first round. Depending on what teams also lose (or win). The Wolves can finish as high as sixth and low as eighth. The Nuggets will finish either sixth or seventh.

San Antonio Spurs at New Orleans Pelicans:

If San Antonio wins they can finish anywhere from fourth through eighth. The Pelicans can finish fifth through eighth.

Utah Jazz at Portland Trail Blazers: (only late game -10:30 PM):

Winner takes third seed. Loser will take either fourth or fifth seed.   This game will determine where virtually all the other squads below them finish.

OKC Thunder could finish as high as 4th or as low as 8th:

So, if I’d known this chart existed I’d have added an extra three hours to my day yesterday. Hat tip again to the fans who pointed out the all the variables required to figure out where west teams could finish. And thanks to Stephen Dolan and Alex Mcewen for helping out as I tried (read: got salty)  to figure out all the different scenarios.

Get the preview and keys to winning for OKC Thunder – Memphis Grizzlies game here. 

Of course shortly after completing that quest I came across the following chart which outlined all the scenarios.

What we know for sure:

  • OKC Thunder can finish in fourth, sixth or eighth, but not in fifth or seventh. This by virtue of Golden State losing to Utah.
  • One of the Spurs or Pelicans will finish with 48 wins and the other with 47 wins.
  • One of the Nuggets or Wolves will fill the final west opening and will finish with  47 wins.
  • If the OKC Thunder lose they will finish with 47 wins.
  • The above three situations would force a review of the better winning percentage among all tied teams. As per the chart below I was hard pressed to find any scenario where the Thunder finish anywhere but eighth if they lose to Memphis.
  • If the OKC Thunder win they could finish as high as fourth and capture home court seeding or as low as sixth.  They can ONLY get one of those two seeds in a win.
  • If OKC finish fourth they will play the Utah Jazz.
  • If the Thunder finish sixth they will play either Portland or Utah.
  • OKC will not play the Spurs, Pelicans, Wolves or Nuggets in round one.