After a busy first two days of seeding games at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, the action continues with a five-game slate.
Six teams are taking part in a season "re-opener" while the Los Angeles Lakers, Utah Jazz, LA Clippers and New Orleans Pelicans get their second taste of action at the NBA's restart. These are called seeding games for a reason, as each of the team's remaining eight games holds plenty of playoff implications.
Which games have the biggest impact? Below, find an updated look at the standings as well as a rundown of what each game means.
|1||x - Milwaukee Bucks||54||12||-||1||x - Los Angeles Lakers||50||14||-|
|2||x - Toronto Raptors||46||18||7||2||x - LA Clippers||44||21||6.5|
|3||x - Boston Celtics||43||22||10.5||3||x - Denver Nuggets||43||22||7.5|
|4||x - Miami Heat||41||24||12.5||4||x - Utah Jazz||42||23||8.5|
|5||x - Indiana Pacers||39||26||14.5||5||x - Houston Rockets||41||24||9.5|
|6||x - Philadelphia 76ers||39||26||14.5||6||x - Oklahoma City Thunder||40||24||10|
|7||Orlando Magic||31||35||23||7||Dallas Mavericks||40||28||12|
|8||Brooklyn Nets||30||35||23.5||8||Memphis Grizzlies||32||34||19|
|9||Washington Wizards||24||41||29.5||9||Portland Trail Blazers||30||37||21.5|
|10||San Antonio Spurs||28||36||22|
|11||New Orleans Pelicans||28||37||22.5|
x - Clinched Playoffs Berth
Figuring out the East
Miami Heat vs. Denver Nuggets, 10:30 p.m. (Aug. 1)
With the Celtics loss to the Bucks on Saturday, the Heat are now two games back of the East's third seed. With a win, Miami would trail Boston by one game in the win column and two games in the loss column with an opportunity to gain more ground as it meets Boston on Aug. 4.
Otherwise, things are pretty jumbled between seeds four and six in the East. A Heat loss would make their chances to slide in the standings much more realistic as the two teams directly behind them meet later in the day… we'll get to that in a moment.
I know, I know, the Nuggets are in the West but let's take a moment to talk about what this one means for them as well. Denver is just one game behind LA (Clippers) and one game ahead of Utah in the standings, meaning a win could move them up and a loss could move them down, but those things are impacted by a few games that happen later in the day.
Since this is the first game on the schedule, both the Heat and Nuggets will have their eyes on scores throughout the day.
Philadelphia 76ers vs. Indiana Pacers, 4:30 a.m.
This one's huge.
Philly and Indiana each enter this one with an identical record of 39-26, with the Pacers holding the fifth seed by virtue of having a 2-1 lead in the season series. With a win, Indiana would have a one-game lead in the standings and gain an additional game by winning the season series, meaning Philadelphia would need to finish a full game ahead in the standings for a higher seed.
That being said, this is an important game for the Sixers, who have the talent to make a deep run based on their first-round matchup in the postseason. With a win, Philly would move up to fifth in the standings and tie the season series with Indiana, calling for a secondary tiebreaker if the two teams finish with the same record.
Each team also has an opportunity to inch closer to the fourth seed, pending the result of the Heat game.
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Toronto Raptors, 6 a.m
There's not much to say about the Lakers, who are in the West and have essentially clinched the top spot.
The Raptors, however, are playing for more security towards the top of the East. Toronto's not catching Milwaukee, but it does want to hold off Boston with respect to the No. 2 seed. A win would give the Raps a four-game lead over the Celtics in the win column with just seven games left to play. The two teams do meet next week.
Last season, Toronto made a historic title run as a No. 2 seed. This year, there's a big difference between finishing second and third, as the seventh seed will be the Nets or Magic, while the sixth seed will likely be held by the Sixers or Pacers.
Jockeying for position in the West
Utah Jazz vs. Oklahoma City Thunder, 1 a.m.
It gets interesting here as this is the game that fans were set to tune into prior to the season's postponement.
Four months later, OKC trails Utah by 1.5 games in the standings and can make up some of the difference with a win. The Thunder, who have surprised many this year, can gain a game in the standings with plenty of opportunities to make up the other half-game over the final seven seeding games.
Utah will keep an eye on Denver earlier, as it enters the day trailing the Nuggets by a full game. The Jazz would need to finish ahead of the Nuggets as they are down 0-2 in the season series. Utah can't win the series but has an opportunity to help itself down the line when it faces Denver.
New Orleans Pelicans vs. LA Clippers, 3:30 a.m.
It's not quite panic time for the Pelicans, but after a loss to the Jazz to begin the restart, a win in this one would be big.
New Orleans is 3.5 games back of eighth-seeded Memphis and a game back of Portland, which is currently in position for a play-in. The Pels take on the Grizzlies next week and face the Kings twice during the seeding period, meaning they have plenty of time to help themselves but every win is important.
The Clippers might not be able to move up to first but are in danger of falling in the standings as they begin the day with a one-game lead over the Nuggets and a two-game lead over the Jazz, both of whom are in action.
A win adds a cushion for the Clippers, who lost the season series with the Jazz (1-2) and are currently tied with the Nuggets, who they meet on Aug. 12.
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