There was still a lot to play for on the last night of the NBA’s regular season. In the East, Atlanta and Cleveland secured the first and second spots, and by winning their last game of the season, Chicago and Toronto finished third and fourth respectively. The only question left in the East was who would take the eighth and final spot in the conference: Indiana or Brooklyn.
Indiana was one game ahead of Brooklyn, but with the Nets holding the tiebreaker, the Pacers needed to do at least as good as the Nets in the final game of the regular season. Brooklyn won their game against the Orlando Magic, 101-88, so the Pacers needed a win in Memphis to secure their place in the playoffs. Memphis had something to play for as well – because of the Spurs’ loss in New Orleans, a win would mean home-court advantage in a first round match-up with the Portland Trailblazers.
In a game that was never close, Memphis ran away early in the second quarter and did not looked back, securing the fifth spot in the West and sending the Indiana Pacers home for an early vacation, winning 95-83.
In the West, the eighth seed was still to play for as well. Tied with the Thunder, but holding the tiebreaker, the New Orleans Pelicans needed a win to secure a place in the playoffs, playing the San Antonio Spurs at home in their season finale. In a game with huge implications, the Pelicans took control early in the game, and led by as much as 23. In a nervous fourth quarter, the Pelicans managed to hold off the reigning champions, resulting in a 108-103 win and the eighth seed in the Western Conference, earning them a first round match-up with the Warriors.
The win meant that the Oklahoma Thunder, despite winning their last game 138-113 against Minnesota, are not going to participate in this year’s playoffs, finishing ninth in the conference.
For San Antonio, a victory against New Orleans would have locked up the second seed, but the loss (and wins by Houston and Memphis) had huge consequences: they fall all the way down to sixth place, and consequently have no home-court advantage during the entire playoffs. The Rockets end the season in second place, while the Clippers hold on to the third spot.