The end has arrived. Actually John Miller 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 Mark Andrews Jersey , 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, 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.
PHILLY RECORD
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.
SCORING TITLE
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.
MORE POINTS
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 Ronde Barber Jersey , 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.
TRIPLE-DOUBLE RUSS
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.
STRUGGLING WARRIORS
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, 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.
TOP SHOOTER
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.
TOP REBOUNDER
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.
WILD NORTHWEST
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.
ROOKIE WATCH
There have been 116 rookies in the NBA this season Kyzir White Jersey , 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 Tom Brady is the comeback king in the playoffs.
From his past two Super Bowl wins to the AFC championship game rally against Jacksonville that got the Patriots to the NFL’s biggest stage for the third in four seasons, no quarterback has engineered more late-game playoff comebacks than Brady.
But he is not alone. Whether it was Marcus Mariota and the Tennessee Titans in the wild-card round against Kansas City earlier this postseason, or Russell Wilson against Green Bay in (2015) or Andrew Luck against the Chiefs the previous year, there have been as many playoff comebacks from at least 10 points down in the fourth quarter the past five seasons as there were the previous 26 seasons.
”What happens is instead of playing the team, they start playing the clock. Sometimes you win and sometimes you go against a bad boy like Tom Brady and you get burned,” former Colts receiver and current NFL Network analyst Reggie Wayne said. ”A lot of that falls onto the coaches. The players are going to run what the coaches call.”
Whether it’s Atlanta failing to run the ball enough late in last year’s Super Bowl that helped the Patriots rally from 28-3 down to win in overtime or Seattle’s decision to pass at the goal line instead of hand it to Marshawn Lynch back in 2015, questionable coaching decisions have contributed to some of those comebacks.
But nobody is better at exploiting those mistakes than Brady and the Patriots. He has four playoff wins in games he trailed by at least 10 points in the fourth quarter, including the ”Tuck Rule” game against Oakland in 2002. No other quarterback has led more than one such comeback in playoff history.
”There’s a great belief no matter what the circumstances, that we have enough to overcome it,” Brady said. ”I don’t think we want to try to overcome that again this year. That was pretty tough to do. Hopefully we can get a lead, play from ahead, play on our terms.”
The Patriots are comfortable when that happens. They are 6-6 in the playoffs when trailing after three quarters under Brady and coach Bill Belichick Marcus Allen Jersey , while the rest of the NFL has a 27-140 record in that span with only Russell Wilson and Eli Manning having more than two fourth-quarter comebacks with four each.
Not that it is by design.
”That whole comeback thing is overrated,” said NFL Network analyst Willie McGinest, who won three Super Bowl titles as Brady’s teammate in New England. ”Players can’t go in and say, `Hey, we want to win this game in dramatic fashion, be down 11 with eight minutes to go and come back and have the crowd go crazy.’ You want to be in control, play a certain way and be in front. Because that changes how you play the game.”
The biggest deficit overcome to win a Super Bowl before last season was just 10 points and the Patriots were the first team to overcome a deficit that big in the second half when they did it against the Seahawks three years ago.
The only other teams to come back from 10 points down to win a Super Bowl faced those deficits early in the second quarter with New Orleans rallying against Indianapolis in 2010 and Washington against Denver in 1988.
Brady’s postseason passer rating when trailing in fourth quarter the past four years is a staggering 121.2, compared to 75.6 for the rest of the NFL.
In last year’s Super Bowl comeback, the Falcons appeared to tire and struggled to generate pressure, sending more than four pass rushers on just two of 24 pass plays in the fourth quarter.
The Jaguars also only brought more than four rushers on two of 15 fourth-quarter pass plays in the AFC title game when New England came back from 20-10 down to win 24-20.
”What teams do wrong is they go zone,” Wayne said. ”He’s going to pick zone apart all day, every day. He’s going to spread you out and they’re the best at creating mismatches.”

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