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NBA playoff race: Three teams clinch on Monday night

NBA playoff race: Three teams clinch on Monday night

After Monday night, only two days remain in the NBA regular season.

Which games mattered the most on Monday night, and what were the results? We break it down after an eventful evening.


The Thunder outscore the Heat 39-12 in the 4th quarter to come away with the win in Miami.

  • BPI favorite: Heat (51.9 percent)

  • What happened: Despite trailing 23-5 in the first quarter, the Thunder secured a playoff spot with a win.


LeBron James drops 26 points, 11 assists and 6 rebounds while Kevin Love scores a game-high 28 points as the Cavaliers beat the Knicks 123-109.

  • BPI favorite: Cavs (59.3 percent)

  • What happened: The Cavaliers clinched the Central division title. If the Cavs want to scoot up into the No. 3 seed over the Philadelphia 76ers — setting up a potential second-round matchup with an injured Celtics squad — they will to beat the Knicks again Wednesday and get help from Philadelphia’s remaining opponents, Atlanta and Milwaukee.

  • BPI favorite: Bucks (77.3 percent)

  • What happened: The Bucks are in the postseason, but their seed is still a total wild card. Eric Bledsoe had a 20-point triple double against the Magic, and the win gets them closer to No. 6 before facing the 76ers on Wednesday.


Derrick Rose finds Karl-Anthony Towns with a behind-the-back dish in the lane, and Towns finishes through contact.

  • BPI favorite: Wolves (85.6 percent)

  • What happened: Karl-Anthony Towns battled foul trouble to finish with 24 points (11/14 FGs) and 18 rebounds, and this victory helps Minnesota control their own destiny since a matchup with Denver awaits on Wednesday. The result of Blazers-Nuggets had big implications for Minnesota. The Spurs won, but the Nuggets also won, so the Wolves did not clinch a playoff spot Monday night.



LaMarcus Aldridge credits Manu Ginobili’s competitiveness for the Spurs’ comeback win against the Kings.

  • BPI favorite: Spurs (85.9 percent)

  • What happened: The Spurs trailed the Kings by 14 points with 6:05 left in the third quarter. But they outscored Sacramento 50-23 from that point until the end of the game to clinch a playoff spot


Despite the impressive play of Damian Lillard, the Denver Nuggets tough it out against Portland by the score of 88-82 to keep their playoffs hopes alive.

  • BPI favorite: Nuggets (58.3 percent)

  • What happened: The Blazers looked locked into the No. 3 seed, but the Jazz now have a real chance of stealing it after Portland blew an 11-point third quarter lead and lost their fourth straight game. Of course, this game was also huge for the Nuggets, who won their sixth game in a row behind another Nikola Jokic triple-double (15 points, 20 rebounds, 11 assists). The Nuggets can make it into the postseason with a win over the Wolves on Wednesday.


Anthony Davis scores with a few electrifying dunks to lead New Orleans with 28 points in a 113-100 victory against LA and solidify a playoff berth.

  • BPI favorite: Clippers (60.1 percent)

  • What happened: Like the Spurs, the Pelicans secured their spot with a win over a team outside the playoff picture.

Most likely playoff matchups

Here’s how BPI projects each conference with three days remaining. Click here to see the matchups if the season ended today.

Western Conference

  • (1) Rockets vs. (8) Pelicans

  • (2) Warriors vs. (7) Wolves

  • (3) Blazers vs. (6) Spurs

  • (4) Thunder vs. (5) Jazz

Eastern Conference

  • (1) Raptors vs. (8) Wizards

  • (2) Celtics vs. (7) Bucks

  • (3) 76ers vs. (6) Heat

  • (4) Cavaliers vs. (5) Pacers

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