The short offseason between the 2020 NBA Restart in Orlando and the 2020-21 season tip-off has played a huge role in helping fans witness one of the most thrilling and unpredictable seasons in recent times.
Heading into the final week of the 2020-21 season, a lot is at stake for plenty of teams with respect to the playoff spots and seeding.
With that in mind, here's a collection of must-see games from the final week that have the most at stake and are sure to provide entertaining action:
All times IST.
Tuesday, May 11
Washington Wizards at Atlanta Hawks, 5:00 a.m
Prior to Tuesday, the Wizards have been on a tear, winning 13 of their last 16 games and posting the league's best record since April 11. Despite slowing down as of late, the Hawks are in the midst of a revival of their own as they sit at 37-31, rebounding from a 14-20 start.
Depending on its results, Washington could finish anywhere between 8-10 in the East while for Atlanta, that range is from 4-7. So, both teams will look to win and consolidate their position in the standings.
However, the biggest storyline heading into his one is the possibility of Westbrook surpassing Oscar Robertson's all-time NBA record of 181 career triple-doubles.
Utah Jazz at Golden State Warriors, 7:30 a.m
The league's leading scorer vs. a top-three defence in the league.
The Jazz come into this one having won five straight, despite missing both of their starting guards in Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley Jr. This run has not only helped them snatch the best record in the league from the Phoenix Suns but the Jazz have also given their role players more confidence with the extra minutes.
Heading into the final week, Utah holds a two-game lead for the top seed while the Warriors are in the eighth seed but hold just a half-game lead over the Memphis Grizzlies. There will be plenty on the line.
Wednesday, May 12
Miami Heat at Boston Celtics, 5:00 a.m
With four games to go in the final week, the sixth-seeded Heat lead the Celtics by two games but Boston can slice the deficit with a win on Tuesday.
A win would give them the crucial tiebreaker, giving them the advantage if they were to tie with the Heat for the sixth seed. Thus, avoiding the Play-In Tournament.
Those stakes aside, the two previous Miami-Boston games this season have had a playoff atmosphere to them with the combined winning margin being only eight points.
New York Knicks at Los Angeles Lakers, 7:30 a.m
Fresh of their win against the LA Clippers, the Knicks will look to strengthen their hold on the fourth seed in the East as they currently hold a one-game lead over the Hawks. Meanwhile, the Lakers are coming off their first statement win as they defeated the Phoenix Suns behind a season-high 42 from Anthony Davis.
This game is extremely crucial for Los Angeles, which will be looking to win all of its remaining games while hoping the Mavericks or Trail Blazers slip up. The Lakers have lost the tiebreaker to both teams.
The Knicks and Lakers, two of the top three most valuable NBA franchises, enter this contest with identical records of 38-30 - a rarity given the vastly different trajectories that both franchises have been on, especially over the last two decades.
Thursday, May 13
Portland Trail Blazers at Utah Jazz, 6:30 a.m
The race to avoid the Play-In Tournament in the Western Conference includes Dallas (fifth), Portland (sixth) and Los Angeles (seventh), with the lowest finisher of the three teams forced to participate in the Play-In Tournament.
Going into the final seven days of the season, the Trail Blazers hold a one-game lead over the Lakers, and this game begins a tough three-game stretch to close the season, followed by games against top playoff seeds in the Nuggets and Suns.
Friday, May 14
Milwaukee Bucks at Indiana Pacers
Injuries have had a major hand in it but the Pacers' inconsistent form and failure to build momentum or rhythm have them in 10th and final Play-In seed in the East. They are just 2.5 games ahead of the Chicago Bulls, who have won three straight with Zach LaVine returning to the line-up.
After Milwaukee, which has won five straight, Indiana is also set to face Philadelphia, which has won eight straight. Despite their mini-revival, the opponents don't get easy for the Bulls either as they play the Nets twice and the Bucks once in their remaining four games. Who will clinch that final Play-In spot?
On the other hand, the Bucks, who seem to be peaking at the right time, will look to use this contest to build momentum heading into the postseason.
Sunday, May 16
Chicago Bulls at Brooklyn Nets
The second of two games the Bulls and Nets will play in the span of four days.
This could be a big game for both teams as the Nets have lost four of their last five heading into the final week with their Big 3 only playing in five games together this season. They'll look to build momentum while the Bulls will look to pull off an upset and complete the unlikely rise to the 10th seed in the East.
Will LaVine be able to make it to his first career postseason? It would also be the Bulls' first appearance since 2017.
Monday, May 17 - Season Finale (Times TBD)
Each of the 30 teams takes the floor on the final day of the 2020-21 regular season. Here are the biggest games to watch out for:
- Celtics at Knicks - Could decide seeding in the East
- Grizzlies at Warriors - Could decide seeding among West's Play-In spots.
- Lakers at Pelicans - Could decide seeding in West. Lakers will look to avoid the Play-In while Pelicans will hope to rise to 10th to seal the final berth.
- Nuggets at Trail Blazers - Could decide seeding in West. Trail Blazers will look to avoid the Play-In while Nuggets will look for the most suitable seeding in 3/4 in the West.
- Suns at Spurs - Could decide seeding in West. Suns battle for the top spot while the Spurs fight to stay in 10th.
- Hornets at Wizards - Could decide seeding among East's Play-In spots.
An additional storyline to watch is the race for the league's scoring title. Prior to Tuesday, Curry (31.9) leads Bradley Beal (31.4) by the slightest of margins. Who will finish out on top?
If it ends as is, this would be Curry's second scoring title and first since 2016, while it would be Beal's first-ever. It will also snap a streak of three straight-scoring titles won by James Harden from 2018 to 2020.
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