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Lakers Beat Pacers, Set Up Wild Last Day for Blazers

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Portland can still finish anywhere between 5th-7th in the West. Here’s what tomorrow will look like.

NBA: Denver Nuggets at Portland Trail Blazers Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Indiana Pacers 122-115 this afternoon, clearing the way for the final day of the NBA regular season to determine playoffs seeding in several Western Conference slots.

The victory gives the Lakers a 41-30 record, tied with the Portland Trail Blazers for the 6th and 7th seeds in the West. The Dallas Mavericks stand one game ahead in 5th with a 42-29 record.

The Blazers face the 47-24 Denver Nuggets tomorrow at 6:00 PM, Pacific. The Lakers will play the New Orleans Pelicans (31-40) in New Orleans while the Mavericks travel to Minnesota to square off against the Timberwolves (22-48). All three games will be played simultaneously. Their outcomes will determine the order of seeding for the 5th-7th positions.

The Trail Blazers own the tiebreaker against both the Lakers and the Mavericks. Should they end up tied with either individually, they will take the higher seed of the two. If there is a three-way tie at the end of the day, the Mavericks will take the 5th seed, Portland 6th, and L.A. the 7th.

Whichever team ends up in the 7th position will be forced to play next Wednesday in a play-in game versus the 8th seed in the West. The winner of that game will earn the 7th seed permanently, while the loser plays either the 9th- or 10th-position team for the right to the 8th seed. The teams finishing 5th and 6th in the conference do not have to worry about the play-in tournament. They will get the week to rest and prepare before the official start of the 2021 NBA Playoffs next weekend.

Right now the Nuggets are tied with the Los Angeles Clippers in a battle for the 3rd and 4th seeds. Denver owns the tiebreaker. If the Nuggets win, they will earn the 3rd seed and face the team that finishes 6th in the first round. That would be the Blazers or the Lakers. If Denver loses, they will finish 4th and face the 5th seed, which would be the Blazers or the Mavericks.

The Clippers play the Oklahoma City Thunder on the road at the same time as all the above-mentioned games.

Here’s the breakdown of possible outcomes after tomorrow’s slate.

If the Blazers Beat Denver...

Mavericks and Lakers both win— Portland finishes 6th, will face the 3rd seed

Mavericks win, Lakers lose— Portland finishes 6th, will face the 3rd seed

Lakers win, Mavericks lose— Portland finishes 6th, will face the 3rd seed

Mavericks and Lakers both lose— Portland finishes 5th, will face the 4th seed

If the Blazers Lose to Denver...

Lakers win— Portland finishes 7th, will be in Play-In Tournament

Lakers lose— Portland finishes 6th, will face the 3rd seed

Who Will Finish 3rd and 4th?

Clippers and Nuggets both win— Nuggets 3rd, Clippers 4th

Clippers win, Nuggets Lose— Clippers 3rd, Nuggets 4th

Nuggets win, Clippers Lose— Nuggets 3rd, Clippers 4th

Clippers and Nuggets both lose— Nuggets 3rd, Clippers 4th

P.S. If the Blazers do fall to 7th, they’ll face either the Golden State Warriors or Memphis Grizzlies in the first play-in game. That hasn’t been decided either. Those two teams face each other tomorrow at 12:30, Pacific with the winner finishing 8th and the loser 9th.

P.P.S. The Phoenix Suns beat the San Antonio Spurs today to move within one game of the Utah Jazz for the 1st seed in the conference. They own the tiebreaker with Utah. That means that all of the Top 9 seeds in the West will be up for grabs tomorrow.