Stage set for NBA post-elims battles

The Philippine Star
Stage set for NBA post-elims battles
LeBron James

MANILA, Philippines — LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers are staying in New Orleans for a couple more days. Stephen Curry and Golden State will head back to Sacramento to face elimination again. And the Miami Heat are back in the play-in, which started their run to the NBA Finals last year.

The play-in field is set. On Tuesday, it’s the Lakers facing the Pelicans for a No. 7 seed in the Western Conference, then the Warriors and the Kings in an elimination game. On Wednesday, it’s the Heat going to Philadelphia to decide No. 7 in the Eastern Conference, followed by Atlanta at Chicago in a win-or-else matchup.

“Look, this is the best time of year,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “These kind of environments, the games, the context ... you can’t expect it to be easy.”

Of the 20 postseason seeds, 15 were decided on Sunday, as were three of the four play-in matchups and three of the four first-round series that don’t include play-in teams.

The final order in the East: Boston, New York, Milwaukee, Cleveland, Orlando, Indiana, Philadelphia, Miami, Chicago and Atlanta. In the West, the order from No. 1 to No. 10 is Oklahoma City, Denver, Minnesota, the Los Angeles Clippers, Dallas, Phoenix, New Orleans, the Lakers, Sacramento and Golden State.

“Good momentum going into the playoffs,” Thunder star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander said after his team finished No. 1 in the West. “Nothing to complain about. ... We won a lot of basketball games. That’s what it’s all about. That’s what everybody laces their shoes up for, to win basketball games and have a chance to win a championship.”

The only first-round series that was set before Sunday was Clippers-Mavericks in the West. Added to the list now: Bucks-Pacers and Cavaliers-Magic in the East, along with Timberwolves-Suns in the West.

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