February 25, 2024


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The field for the knockout stage almost began on the final day of group play

The field for the knockout stage almost began on the final day of group play

The final day of conference play in the season-opening NBA Championship brought the scoreboard viewing and playoff drama the league had been hoping for for months.

The Indiana Pacers qualified for the quarterfinals, where the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks will host the New York Knicks, while the Indiana Pacers will face the Boston Celtics. In the West, the Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns were eliminated from the first group, while the New Orleans Pelicans qualified for the second group.

The Sacramento Kings and Golden State Warriors currently play to determine the third group in the West.

The Celtics entered Tuesday with a simple directive: Beat the Chicago Bulls as hard as humanly possible. With a zero point differential and a three-way tie with the Orlando Magic and Brooklyn Nets likely, Boston needed a big win over the Bulls to surpass the Idle Magic’s +22 margin.

The game started out fairly even, and then the Celtics continued to build a big lead. They led by 11 points at the end of the first quarter, then went up by 19 points at halftime, then went on a huge third quarter to pull out a 124-97 win. That 27-point lead single-handedly lifted the Celtics to Orlando.

Meanwhile, the Nets beat the Toronto Raptors, but by a very narrow margin to finish second behind the Magic.

The Bucks took care of the game against the Miami Heat without Jimmy Butler to improve their record to 4-0 and lead the Eastern Conference B, although the Heat made things difficult at times. Miami led by three points midway through the fourth quarter, but a quick 7-0 run gave Milwaukee the distance it needed.

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Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard had one of their best games together yet, combining for 65 points and 14 assists. However, it was Kris Middleton who had the biggest basket:

The Knicks were watching the Bucks and Heat match with great interest, as a Heat win would have given them the group win. The Knicks improved their point differential to +42 after their blowout win over the Charlotte Hornets, but they ended up settling for the Eastern Conference spot.

The Pelicans clinched the Western Conference thanks to a loss to the Houston Rockets, who needed a 17-point win over the Dallas Mavericks to qualify.

The Pacers and Lakers were the first two teams to qualify for the playoffs, as both teams finished 4-0 on Friday. The Pacers, the NBA’s reigning MVP this season, had dramatic wins over the Cleveland Cavaliers and Philadelphia 76ers in the Eastern Conference, while the Lakers advanced to an unusually weak Western Conference, which included three of the bottom four teams in Western Region. conference.

This group also benefited the Suns, who clinched the West’s wild card on Tuesday by +34 points.

The qualifying teams will play in the quarterfinals on December 4-5, with matches hosted by the higher seeds, with the semifinals and final scheduled for December 7-9 in Las Vegas. All games except the final will be counted toward the regular season records.

Friday’s NBA championship results in season

Boston Celtics 124 and Chicago Bulls 97

Cleveland Cavaliers 128, Atlanta Hawks 105

Brooklyn Nets 115, Toronto Raptors 103

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New York Knicks 115, Charlotte Hornets 91

Milwaukee Bucks 131, Miami Heat 124

Minnesota Timberwolves 106, Oklahoma City Thunder 103

Dallas Mavericks 119 and Houston Rockets 115

NBA championship standings by season

All games, except the championship game, will count towards the regular season records. The playoffs are in order: head-to-head record, point differential, total points scored, 2022-23 regular season record, and wild-card draw.

Eastern Group A

1. Indiana Pacers: 4-0, +39 (won series)
2. Cleveland Cavaliers: 3-1, +29 (out)
3. Philadelphia 76ers: 2-2, +9 (out)
4. Atlanta Hawks: 1-3, -32 (out)
5. Detroit Pistons: 0-4, -45 (out)

Eastern Group B

1. Milwaukee Bucks: 4-0, +46 (won series)
2. New York Knicks: 3-1, +42 (wildcard)
3. Miami Heat: 2-2, +4 (out)
4. Charlotte Hornets: 1-3, -54 (outed)
5. Washington Wizards: 0-4, -38 (elimination)

Eastern group c

1. Boston Celtics: 3-1, +27 (won series)
2. Orlando Magic: 3-1, +22 (out)
3. Brooklyn Nets: 3-1, +20 (out)
4. Toronto Raptors: 1-3, -21 (out)
5. Chicago Bulls: 0-4, -48 (out)

Western Group A

1. Los Angeles Lakers: 4-0, +74 (winning combination)
2. Phoenix Suns: 3-1, +34 (wildcard)
3. Utah Jazz: 2-2, -13 (out)
4. Portland Trail Blazers: 1-3, -39 (out)
5. Memphis Grizzlies: 0-4, -56 (out)

Western group B

1. New Orleans Pelicans: 3-1, +33 (won series)
2. Houston Rockets: 2-2, +12 (out)
3. Denver Nuggets: 2-2, -10 (out)
4. Dallas Mavericks: 2-2, -14 (out)
5. Los Angeles Clippers: 1-3, -25 (out)

Western group c

1. Sacramento Kings: 3-0, +29
2. Golden State Warriors: 2-1, +5
3. Minnesota Timberwolves: 3-1, 0 (out)
4. Oklahoma City Thunder: 1-3, +24 (out)
5. San Antonio Spurs: 0-4, -58 (out)

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