The end has arrived.
Actually Breeland Speaks Chiefs Jersey , for Atlanta, Phoenix, Dallas and Charlotte, the end came in their season finales Tuesday. There are nine teams that know Wednesday is the last day of their season. And 15 teams already have clinched playoff berths.
Then there are Minnesota and Denver.
Game 82 for both teams will have a Game 7-of-the-playoffs feel, which is a fitting way to transition from the regular season to the postseason. Nuggets at Timberwolves, winner to the playoffs, loser to the offseason. It’s the first time since 1997 – and only the third time since the NBA went to this postseason format in 1983 – that two teams will play on the season’s final day in such a situation.
”It’s bigger than all of us,” Wolves star Karl-Anthony Towns said.
Minnesota is trying to get into the playoffs for the first time since 2004 – the longest current drought in the NBA. Denver – winner of six straight to give itself this chance – is trying to get to the postseason for the first time since 2013.
So there’s only one spot left in the 16-team tournament that will decide whose fingerprints get to put the smudge of a championship celebration on the Larry O’Brien Trophy in June.
Much like the race between Minnesota and Denver, the entire tournament bracket itself is going down to the wire. There will be eight first-round matchups, and every single one of those pairings will be decided on Wednesday. So, too, will 11 of the 16 seeds. Portland and Utah will play for the No. 3 seed in the West, in one of the few cut-and-dry matchups.
The only order of business that was cleared up Tuesday was the No. 2 overall seed, with Toronto now assured of finishing with the NBA’s second-best record.
Here’s some other things to note going into the last day of the regular season:
A FIRST FOR LEBRON
It’s really, really, really hard to find something that LeBron James hasn’t done in his career. But if he appears for Cleveland against New York on Wednesday night Jaleel Scott Jersey Elite , it will mark the first time in James’ 15 seasons that he plays in all 82 regular-season games. He will lead the NBA in minutes played, field goals made and total points this season – at 33 years old.
Philadelphia would be the No. 3 seed in the East if it beats Milwaukee, and a franchise that knew nothing but losing (OK, ”process” losing) in recent years will set a record – for winning. If the 76ers prevail, it would be their 16th consecutive victory and that would top the record for longest winning streak to end any NBA season.
Houston’s James Harden has the scoring crown wrapped up. He’ll be the first player to win back-to-back scoring titles since his former Oklahoma City teammate Kevin Durant won three straight from 2009-10 through 2011-12.
Once again, the NBA will see more points than ever (in terms of total, not average per game). There were 259,753 points in the regular season a year ago; that will be surpassed Wednesday night, and the league is on pace to reach somewhere around 261,000 by the time the final whistle blows.
A LITTLE CASH
As if getting to the playoffs wasn’t enough, there’s a bit of a financial stake at play for Minnesota and Denver in their finale – the winning team splits $298,485, as part of the NBA’s $20 million playoff pool this season.
Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook needs 16 rebounds against Memphis to average exactly 10.0 per game this season. If he gets there, he’ll average a triple-double for the second consecutive year. Westbrook has six games this season with at least 16 rebounds, including a season-high, 18-board effort at Miami on Monday night. Westbrook will also lead the NBA in assists per game.
Golden State lost 10 of its final 17 games this season. The Warriors‘ regular season ended Tuesday with a blowout loss at Utah. Klay Thompson isn’t worried Baltimore Ravens Jerseys Womens , and he knows the defending champions – who have dealt with many injuries, most recently Stephen Curry out with a knee issue – have plenty of doubters. ”We’re ready to prove people wrong,” Thompson said.
The field-goal percentage race between Houston’s Clint Capela and the Los Angeles Clippers‘ DeAndre Jordan might look closer than it really is. Capela is shooting 65.3 percent, Jordan 64.3 percent – but if Jordan is going to catch Capela, he’ll have to shoot 15 for 15 on Wednesday (assuming Capela doesn’t take any shots). Jordan was trying to be the first player to lead the league in shooting for six straight seasons, but it seems like he’ll merely have to settle for tying Wilt Chamberlain and Shaquille O’Neal with five straight crowns.
Here’s another category where Jordan will finish second. Detroit’s Andre Drummond will lead the league’s rebounding race for the second time in three years.
The Northwest Division this season will go down as the most competitive in the current six-division format – and it’s not even close. The team that finishes last in the Northwest will be only three games behind the team that wins the division crown. There’s never been a last-place team within less than 11 games of the winner in this current format, which has been in play for 14 seasons.
There have been 116 rookies in the NBA this season, up 28 from last season, and the latest addition is noteworthy. Andre Ingram is a 32-year-old who debuted Tuesday for the Los Angeles Lakers against Hou Quenton Nelson made quite a first impression on the Indianapolis Colts.
He's hoping to have the same impact on Andrew Luck.
The Colts finally gave their franchise quarterback some extra protection by taking the Notre Dame guard, the highest-rated offensive linemen in the NFL draft, with the sixth overall pick on Thursday night. He is the first guard selected in the first round by Indy since Ron Solt in 1984.
"I would say that I'm a very nasty offensive lineman who wants to finish every play whether it's in the run game or the pass game," Nelson said. "I want to work together to have the best offensive line in the league and protect one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL."
He's the first guard to be selected in the top six in more than two decades, and it didn't take the 6-foot-5, 330-pound Nelson long to convince the Colts he was worthy of it.
General manager Chris Ballard said he watched Nelson play once last season, against Miami. But because of an extended coaching search and the transition to a new staff, Ballard only made it to one pro day 鈥?in South Bend in March.
He spoke with Nelson after the workout Authentic Ryan Switzer Jersey , then headed home to explain to his staff why he thought Nelson was ahead of his college teammate, tackle Mike McGlinchey, who was taken by San Francisco at No. 9.
"You could just feel it," Ballard said as he struggled to explain the sensation. "I could feel it when I watched Adrian Peterson coming out. It was the same thing with Dez (Bryant). You can just feel it sometimes. With Quenton Nelson, it was the same way."
Back at team headquarters, others concurred.
Perhaps that explains why Ballard was willing to trade back three spots and then turned down another offer to move back. Ballard didn't say which team made the offer, but just minutes after NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced Nelson's name Buffalo traded up from No. 12 to No. 7.
New coach Frank Reich jumped on board after watching Nelson's tape.
"My first impression is that this is the best offensive lineman I've seen coming out in a while," he said. "His ability to pull is so far greater than anything we've ever seen."
Nelson also fills a huge need for Indy as Luck attempts to come back from a shoulder surgery that kept him out for the entire 2017 season. In 70 career starts, Luck has been sacked 156 times and taken 691 hits 鈥?the highest total in the league over that span according to the NFL. Last year, Indy allowed 56 sacks.
Pass protection hasn't been the only problem.
As Indy played musical chairs with the interior line for most of the past six years, the Colts have produced just one 1,000-yard rusher in that time and last season the Colts averaged 3.7 yards per carry.
Indy also lost its top rusher from the past three seasons, Frank Gore, in free agency.
Nelson, who started 36 games at left guard for the Irish, will now play alongside center Ryan Kelly Mike McGlinchey Color Rush Jersey , Indy's first-round pick in 2016. The line also will be comprised of left tackle Anthony Castonzo, a first-round pick in 2011; veteran guard Matt Slauson, a free-agent signee; and possibly guard Jack Mewhort, a second-round pick in 2014 who is trying to come back from two injury-plagued seasons.
The bigger question continues to be Luck, who not thrown a regulation football since returning from rehab in Europe late last year.
But if Luck makes it back, Nelson's presence should certainly help him stay upright.
He was a second-team All-American last season and one of four finalists for the 2017 Outland Trophy, which is awarded to the nation's best interior lineman.
"I definitely feel like I can come up and start from Day 1," said Nelson, who watched the draft from his family's lake home less than a three-hour drive from Lucas Oil Stadium.
The Colts are banking on it.
"He has everything we want. He's tough, passionate, he loves the game," Ballard said. "He's nasty, he's tough and his football character is off the charts. He's got unique size and bend and straight power."
Indy had eight more picks over the final two days of the draft including four Friday 鈥?three in the second round and one in the third.