The NBA Comes Down the Stretch

THERE'S JUST ONE WEEK LEFT IN THIS NBA REGULAR SEASON AND WE BREAK DOWN WHAT'S STRAIGHT AHEAD FOR THE PLAYOFF-BOUND (OR PLAYOFF-HOPEFUL) TEAMS ...

The NBA will slam shut its (sometimes never-ending) 2016-17 regular season come Wednesday, April 12th and so that means there's a full week remaining to decide a whole batch of things including who gets the numero uno playoff seed in the Eastern Conference and who fills out the final couple of post-season berths in the East and that final slot out West.

THE NBA REPORT

So last night's Cleveland Cavaliers-Boston Celtics showdown didn't necessarily determine who gets the top seed in next week's playoffs - it's no done deal yet as far as the East's top seed as the Cavs still have remaining games at home against Atlanta on Friday, then at Atlanta on Sunday, at Miami on Monday and a season-ending home game against Toronto.

On the flip side the Celtics close out their '16-17 campaign with tonight's game in Atlanta (see quickie TNT preview below), at Charlotte on Saturday, home to Brooklyn on Monday and then it's a regular-season wrap-up game at home against Milwaukee on Wednesday night.

So, you tell us ... who has the last-week-in-the-season advantage here? Sure looks like Boston has the smoother path to that #1 seed.

Meanwhile, Washington and Toronto exited Tuesday night's action knotted up with identical 47-31 records but the D.C. bunch still plays at New York, home to Miami, at Detroit and at Miami while the Raptors' sked reads like this: Home to Miami on Friday night, at New York on Sunday and at Cleveland on Wednesday night.

Advantage to the North-of-the-Border crew, eh?

The rest of the Eastern Conference race is muddled big-time with as many as seven teams battling for the four remaining berths although Detroit and Charlotte could be DOA any day now - wouldn't it be something if Wednesday's Atlanta at Indiana game wound up being an elimination game? Could happen.

Out West, there's the matter of punching the playoff ticket for either Portland or Denver for that final slot - what, you think either one of 'em is gonna win a single playoff game against #1 seed Golden State? - and what's gonna happen in that upcoming #4 versus #5 series between Utah and the Los Angeles Clippers?

The defensive-minded Jazz exited Tuesday with a one-game lead for that all-important home-court advantage but there's remaining games against Minnesota (Friday), at Portland (Saturday), at Golden State (Monday) and home to San Antonio (Wednesday) while the Clips close things out with tilts at San Antonio (Saturday), home to Houston (Monday) and home to Sacramento (Wednesday).

On Thursday night, it's ...
BOSTON at ATLANTA - 8 p.m. ET, TNT
The Celtics are a solid 22-17 SU (straight-up) on the NBA road this year and no question G Isaiah Thomas and mates will put pedal to the floor here against a sagging Hawks' bunch that's lost eight of its last 10 games.

MINNESOTA at PORTLAND - 10:35 p.m. ET, TNT
Challenging week for the host Trail Blazers who play their third game in four nights here (thanks to Monday's make-up game in Minnesota where Portland grabbed the cash but lost 110-109 as a 1.5-point underdog). Maybe G Damian Lillard won't need to hoist up a buzzer-beater shot here to try and win it (see Monday's loss in Minny).