2021 Playoff bracket updates: All matchups set

The final day of the 2020-21 NBA regular season is in the books and the matchups are set for the State Farm Play-In Tournament and four of the eight playoff series.

Play-In Tournament schedule

Tuesday, May 18

• Game 1 (East 9/10): Indiana vs. Charlotte; 6:30 ET, TNT
• Game 2 (East 7/8): Boston vs. Washington; 9 ET, TNT

Wednesday, May 19

• Game 3 (West 9/10): Memphis vs. San Antonio; 7:30 ET, ESPN
• Game 4: (West 7/8): Los Angeles Lakers vs. Golden State; 10 ET, ESPN

Thursday, May 20

• East: Winner of Game 1 vs. Loser of Game 2; 8 ET, TNT

Friday, May 21

• West: Winner of Game 3 vs. Loser of Game 4; TBD, ESPN

Playoff series (schedule TBD):

Eastern Conference

No. 1 Philadelphia 76ers vs. Winner of East No. 7-8 loser vs. East No. 9-10 winner
No. 2 Brooklyn Nets vs. Winner of Celtics-Wizards Play-In Game
No. 3 Milwaukee Bucks vs. No. 6 Miami Heat
No. 4 New York Knicks vs. No. 5 Atlanta Hawks

Western Conference

No. 1 Utah Jazz vs. Winner of West No. 7-8 loser vs. West No. 9-10 winner
No. 2 Phoenix Suns vs. Winner of Lakers-Warriors Play-In Game
No. 3 Denver Nuggets vs. No. 6 Portland Trail Blazers
No. 4 LA Clippers vs. No. 5 Dallas Mavericks

Update: First Round Schedule of NBA Playoffs

Here’s how the key storylines around the league shook out as the season came to a close.

Jazz secure West’s best record, Blazers doom Lakers to Play-In Tournament

Sunday’s Western Conference nightcap was probably as notable for who was trying not to win as much as who was. Such was the extent of pre-playoff gamesmanship as various teams — looking at you, Nuggets/Clippers/Mavericks — tried to maneuver their way to the matchups they deemed favorable.

The Jazz, however, were not one of those teams. Forced to treat their final outing like an actual game thanks to Phoenix’s victory over San Antonio earlier in the day, they dominated Sacramento by 22 points to clinch the league’s best record and homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs.

Also going all out were the Trail Blazers, who accomplished a pair of goals with their rout of Denver. Not only did they secure the No. 6 spot to avoid the Play-In Tournament, they doomed the rival L.A. Lakers to that fate despite their victory over New Orleans. The defending champs will now have to beat Stephen Curry and Golden State to enter the proper bracket at No. 7. Even if they make it, their task will be Herculean: No NBA team has ever won the title from such a low seed.

Nets blast Cavs to secure 2nd, Bucks-Heat series set

Brooklyn’s 123-109 rout over Cleveland settles the rest of the Eastern Conference playoff picture. The Nets are set at second place and will face the winner of the Celtics-Wizards Play-In game. Kevin Durant appears in fine form for his Nets playoff debut after dropping 23 points, eight rebounds, and 13 assists on Sunday.

Milwaukee (3), meanwhile, will settle into third and a first-round series against the same Heat (6) squad that ousted them in the second round last season. Milwaukee won the season series with Miami 2-1.

Warriors fend off Grizzlies, clinch 8th place

Stephen Curry wasn’t about to let Golden State wander into a single-elimination minefield.

The 2020-21 scoring champion slammed the door on Memphis’ bid to pass them in the standings, dropping 46 points in the Warriors 113-101 win over the Grizzlies. The victory keeps Golden State at eighth place, which affords two Play-In chances for the lone victory needed to advance to the playoffs.

The Warriors will play either the Lakers or Blazers in the Play-In depending on Sunday’s later outcomes (see times/results below). The winner of that Play-In game will be seeded seventh and face either Phoenix or Utah in the first round.

Memphis, meanwhile, drops to ninth place and is set to face 10th-place San Antonio in a lose-and-go-home Play-In game on Wednesday (7:30 ET, ESPN).

Suns edge Spurs, force Jazz to win for 1st place

Phoenix managed to keep the pressure on Utah despite sitting Devin Booker, Chris Paul, and Deandre Ayton.

A reserve-led effort was enough for a resilient Suns team to earn a 123-121 victory over the Spurs. The victory ties Phoenix with Utah in wins, forcing the Jazz to win today’s game against Cleveland (7 ET, League Pass) to clinch first place in the Western Conference. The Suns own the head-to-head tiebreaker with the Jazz after winning the season series 3-0.

Phoenix, which will make its first postseason appearance since 2010, will finish second if the Jazz win.

Knicks beat Celtics, lock seeds No. 4 – 6 in East

New York’s unexpected rise has carried it all the way to home-court advantage in the first round.

Julius Randle and RJ Barrett combined for 42 points as the Knicks secured the fourth-best record in the Eastern Conference with Sunday’s 96-92 win over the Celtics. Boston, who is already locked in at seventh place, rested most of their regular rotation players in preparation for the 2021 State Farm Play-In Tournament.

The Knicks’ win cemented seeds four through six in the East, setting up a first-round 4-5 matchup between New York and Atlanta. The Hawks are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2017, riding the momentum of a mid-season coaching change and the stellar play of Trae Young, Clint Capela, and Bogdan Bogdanovic.

The Miami Heat are now locked into sixth place in the East, but must await the Nets and Bucks’ respective Sunday outcomes to know who they will face in the first round.

Wizards top Hornets, secure 8th place

The muddied Play-In picture in the Eastern Conference finally cleared up after Washington pulled off a monumental 115-110 comeback victory over Charlotte on Sunday. The win vaults the Wizards to eighth place in the Play-In, guaranteeing them two games to earn the one win needed to advance to the playoffs.

Washington’s first Play-In game will be against the Celtics (Tuesday, 9 ET, TNT), with the winner securing the seventh seed in the East.

With its own loss, combined with Indiana’s 125-113 win over Toronto, Charlotte slides to 10th place. The Hornets and Pacers will face off in a single elimination game (Tuesday, 6:30 ET, TNT), with the winner advancing to play the loser of Celtics-Wizards for the eighth and final playoff seed.

Complete results from Sunday:

  • Wizards 115, Hornets 110
  • Pacers 125, Raptors 113
  • Knicks 96, Celtics 92
  • Suns 123, Spurs 121
  • Warriors 113, Grizzlies 101
  • Nets 123, Cavaliers 109
  • Hawks 124, Rockets 95
  • 76ers 128, Magic 117
  • Heat 120, Pistons 107
  • Bulls 118, Bucks 112
  • Trail Blazers 132, Nuggets 116
  • Timberwolves 136, Mavericks 121
  • Jazz 121, Kings 99
  • Thunder 117, Clippers 112
  • Lakers 110, Pelicans 98