Knicks earn East’s No. 2 seed for NBA playoffs as matchups heat up – The Washington Post – The Washington Post

Knicks earn East’s No. 2 seed for NBA playoffs as matchups heat up – The Washington Post – The Washington Post

The NBA’s playoff and play-in tournament picture finally took shape Sunday when all 20 playoff teams finished the regular season.

As the top-seeded Boston Celtics waited to see how the Eastern Conference bracket would play out below them, the three-way race for the No. 2 seed was upended by two upsets. The New York Knicks earned a 120-119 overtime victory over the Chicago Bulls to secure the No. 2 seed and their first 50-win season since 2012-13, while the Milwaukee Bucks won lost to the Orlando Magic and the Cleveland Cavaliers fell to the Charlotte Hornets. The Magic, Indiana Pacers, Philadelphia 76ers and Miami Heat, in the playoffs, won their finals.

Accordingly, the Eastern seeding order will be No. 1 Boston, No. 2 New York, No. 3 Milwaukee, No. 4 Cleveland, No. 5 Orlando, No. 6 Indiana, No. 7 Philadelphia, No. 8 Miami. , No. 9 Chicago and No. 10 Atlanta. The top six seeds claimed guaranteed playoff spots; the 76ers, Heat, Bulls and Hawks will participate in the play-in tournament for the final two spots in the East.

In the West, the Oklahoma City Thunder knocked off the Dallas Mavericks to secure first place, edging out the Denver Nuggets, who beat the Memphis Grizzlies to finish second, and the Minnesota Timberwolves, who dropped to third place with a loss to the Phoenix Suns. The Suns’ victory and the Los Angeles Lakers’ road victory over the New Orleans Pelicans propelled Kevin Durant’s Suns into the No. 6 seed and dropped the Pelicans to No. 7. LeBron James’ Lakers secured the No. 8 seed with their victory.

Once the season is over, the West seeding order will be No. 1 Oklahoma City, No. 2 Denver, No. 3 Minnesota, No. 4 Los Angeles Clippers, No. 5 in Dallas, No. 6 in Phoenix, No. 7 in New Orleans. , Lakers No. 8, Sacramento No. 9 and Golden State No. 10.

In the East, the Bucks and Pacers will meet in the first round of the playoffs in a rematch of an in-season tournament semifinal, while the Cavaliers and Magic will also meet in the first round. The Knicks will face the winner of the play-in game between the 76ers and the Heat. The winner of the play-in game between the Bulls and Hawks will face the loser of the 76ers-Heat game for the right to face the Celtics in the first round.

The West first-round series will feature the Timberwolves against the Suns and the Clippers against the Mavericks. The Nuggets will face the winner of the play-in game between the Pelicans and Lakers. The winner of the play-in game between the Kings and Warriors will face the loser of the Pelicans-Lakers game, with the winner advancing to the Thunder in the first round.

Sunday’s most dramatic results in the East were New York’s tense victory over Chicago, Orlando’s 113-88 victory over Milwaukee and Charlotte’s 120-110 victory over Cleveland. By ending a three-game losing streak, the Magic reached the playoffs for the first time since 2020.

The Bucks, without star Giannis Antetokounmpo due to a calf injury, finished the season losing eight of their final 11 games and are no longer ranked second. But Milwaukee’s late-season decline allowed it to avoid a potential first-round matchup with Philadelphia, which recently welcomed back 2023 MVP Joel Embiid following a knee injury, or Miami, the defending conference champion. East. Embiid did not play in the 76ers’ 107-86 win over the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday.

Cavaliers stars Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland did not play in Sunday’s loss to the lowly Hornets. For Cleveland, which lost in the first round of last year’s playoffs to New York, falling to fourth place sets up a relatively favorable first-round date with Orlando.

The Suns’ 125-106 victory over the Timberwolves in Minnesota and the Lakers’ 124-108 victory over the Pelicans were the most important Finals in the West. By beating Minnesota, Phoenix secured a guaranteed playoff berth.

If the Lakers had lost to the Pelicans, they would have faced the Warriors in San Francisco on Tuesday. Instead, they will have two chances to win a play-in game and qualify for the playoffs. The Lakers finished strong, winning 11 of their final 14 games, but star forward Anthony Davis left early Sunday with back pain. Davis told reporters he expects to play Tuesday.

The Kings’ 121-82 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers allowed them to host the Warriors in the No. 9 vs. No. 10 West play-in game on Tuesday. Golden State opted to rest Stephen Curry and Draymond Green for the season finale in preparation for the play-in round. The Warriors eliminated the Kings in the first round of last year’s playoffs when Curry scored 50 points in a Game 7 victory in Sacramento.


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