The final day of the regular season is finally here and every game has playoff implications! Our NBA picks has analysed and picked the winner of the five best games of the night, the most important clashes in terms of playoff and play-in seeding.
The Knicks host the Celtics with an opportunity to clinch fourth place and a home playoff series. The Hornets and Wizards face off, with the winner claiming eighth and the losers falling as far as tenth. Eighth place in the West is also up for grabs as the Warriors host the Grizzlies. The two sides are currently tied in the standings and the winner finishes eighth, getting the double chance play-in game while the loser will host the Spurs in a win-or-go-home matchup.
Find out who we have coming out on top of these clashes and more in our NBA picks below! You won’t want to miss these five winners for the last day of the NBA’s regular season!
Boston Celtics @ New York Knicks – 1pm ET
We kick off the day with a matchup between traditional Atlantic Division rivals, the Boston Celtics and New York Knicks. While Boston is comfortably locked in to seventh place in the East, New York currently holds the fourth seed but is tied with Atlanta and just a game ahead of Miami.
The Knicks come into this one off the back of two straight home wins, most recently over Charlotte yesterday. While they needed overtime, the Knicks still ended up winning 118-109 thanks to a 33 point, 13 assist, 10 rebound triple double from Julius Randle.
Randle has been the driving force behind the Knicks resurgence this season and also a big part of why they are 8-5 on the second night of back to backs. Boston on the other hand are just 6-8 in the same scenario, which doesn’t bode well for them despite picking up a win last night.
Julius Randle vs. Hornets today:
🔶33 PTS (12/25 FG)
New York Knicks have reached 40 wins for the first time since the 2012-2013 season pic.twitter.com/vBy3TkfWm3
— Elite Media Group (@TheEliteMedia_) May 15, 2021
With Kemba Walker sitting out the front end of this back to back set, Jayson Tatum stepped up to have team highs of 26 points and 11 rebounds. Evan Fournier continued to impress offensively with 18 points and six assists while Luke Kornet had one of his better showings for the Celtics with 12 points, six rebounds and four blocks.
The Knicks and Celtics have already played twice already this season, both in Boston, with the sides splitting the two matchups. The fact that New York stole one of the matchups in Boston and now gets back on home court for this one, is a big bonus. Their superior record when playing with no rest, home record compared to Boston’s road record and the fact they have everything to play for gives New York a massive edge and should see them lock up the fourth seed in this one.
Charlotte Hornets @ Washington Wizards – 1pm ET
The Washington Wizards host the Charlotte Hornets in one of the biggest clashes of the night. The two sides are currently tied, also with Indiana, with a 33-38 record and the winner of this clash gets eighth place in the East and a double chance play-in game while the loser drops to either ninth or tenth, depending on the Pacers’ result.
Despite Bradley Beal still sidelined with a hamstring injury, the Wizards were able to stop their two game losing streak with a 120-105 win over the Cavs on Friday night. Russell Westbrook’s 21 point, 17 assist and 12 rebound triple double led Washington however he was just one of seven different players in double figures.
There are a couple of positives for the Wizards in this one. Beal has been upgraded to questionable, they are at home and the Hornets had to play yesterday. The positive for Charlotte on the other hand is that they have beaten the Wizards in both of their previous matchups, including one in Washington.
The Hornets will have to turn things around in order to win though, losing 109-118 in overtime in New York yesterday afternoon. With both Terry Rozier and LaMelo Ball struggling to find their shot, Devonte’ Graham and Miles Bridges stepped up massively off the bench. Graham dropped 25 points and eight assists while Bridges, after missing the last six games due to health and safety protocols, had a team high 30 points.
While Charlotte won the previous matchups between the two sides, they were both before Washington turned things around to become the juggernaut that they are today. Especially if Beal comes back, then Washington would have to play poorly to lose this. The Wizards have picked up five straight wins over teams with a record below 0.500 and are in a better position to come away with this one.
Phoenix Suns @ San Antonio Spurs – 2pm ET
The San Antonio Spurs host the Phoenix Suns for the second straight day and if yesterday was anything to go by, we are in for another blowout. The Spurs may be locked into tenth in the West but the Suns could still sneak up to first if they win and the Jazz lose in Sacramento.
Phoenix’s poor play over the last two weeks has meant that they have to rely on other results to go their way in order to get what they want. They had gone just 2-3 heading into yesterday’s clash but looked back to their usual style of play yesterday, winning 140-103. Seven different players scored in double figures, led by Devin Booker’s 27 points on 55.6% shooting.
— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) May 15, 2021
San Antonio do have their reasoning for playing so poorly with DeMar DeRozan, Dejounte Murray, Rudy Gay and Jakob Poeltl being rested, and there is no guarantee that any of them will play this afternoon given the Spurs have no incentive to win. In their absence, Gorgui Dieng and Keldon Johnson top scored with 18 points, but ultimately it wasn’t enough.
With the Spurs having everything to play for and the Spurs resting players in preparation of the play-in games, we see no reason why Phoenix can’t go on again today. Phoenix should go on and win this game and then they will be nervously watching Utah’s game later this evening.
Memphis Grizzlies @ Golden State Warriors – 3:30pm ET
The Golden State Warriors host the Memphis Grizzlies in a winner takes all clash. The two sides are currently eighth and ninth in the West, tied with a 38-33 record and the season series is split. The winner of this clash claims the season series, moves to 39-33 and holds on to eighth in the West, getting the double chance play-in game.
There are so many intriguing aspects of this clash, with the sides tied on 38-33, both having rested players in their respective Friday matchups and coming in on five game winning streaks, the longest active streaks in the league. The sides have split the two previous meetings, both in Memphis, so the fact that the Warriors are at home for this one gives them an edge.
With Curry, Wiggins and Green all sitting out to rest, the Warriors still beat the Pelicans 125-122. That game isn’t really one to go off given the outs, but their game before that was even better. With a full roster on Tuesday, the Warriors defeated the Suns 122-116. Wiggins dominated the floor in that one, scoring a game high 38 points on 70.8% shooting.
Memphis on the other hand have beaten the Kings on back to back nights, with a massive victory over the Mavs earlier in the week. The Grizzlies rested their top six rotation players on Friday in preparation for this clash but it gave an incredible opportunity for the others to step up. Justise Winslow went bonkers with 25 points and 13 rebounds to lead the way for Memphis and he could be instrumental off the bench for the Grizzlies against the Warriors.
We expect both sides will come out hard and fully prepared for this clash given they have rested players to prepare. However, given Golden State is at home we give them the edge. Memphis has been playing impressive basketball lately but the Warriors have more playoff experience and this game is essentially a game seven for both sides.
Denver Nuggets @ Portland Trail Blazers – 9pm ET
We have another massive clash that is important for both sides as the Portland Trail Blazers host the Denver Nuggets to round out the night. The outcome of this game will impact the seeding of four different teams and will change how the entire Western Conference playoff picture looks.
If Denver wins, they hold on to the third seed. However if they lose and the Clippers win, they will drop down to fourth. The Nuggets come in off the back of three straight road wins and are prepared for this clash in Portland. Nikola Jokic has averaged 27 points, 13.3 rebounds and seven assists over that stretch and will be primed for matchup with the Blazers.
16th triple-double of the season for No. 1️⃣5️⃣
20 PTS | 15 REB | 11 AST pic.twitter.com/ITVKc1nF9M
— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) May 15, 2021
Portland on the other hand have won five of their last six games but their most recent encounter was a loss in Phoenix. The Blazers really should have won that clash, missing late free throws and having poor discipline down the stretch. Damian Lillard scored 41 points in the loss and at least 30 in their last seven games, with the other six being wins.
Portland have been on fire lately, winning nine of their last 11 games, including three straight at home, but facing Denver after their most recent matchups being against the Jazz and the Suns is tough. The Nuggets have stumbled lately though, losing to the Lakers, Jazz and Nets in the last two weeks but have also beaten the Clippers and Knicks in that period as well.
This is the toughest game of the day to pick, but we have to side with the Blazers at home. Portland are fully healthy again while Jamal Murray’s absence will have its impact, especially against the incredible backcourt of Lillard and CJ McCollum.
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*Odds and spreads correct at time of publication, courtesy of FanDuel.
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