What’s at stake for the playoff race and draft lottery during the final days of the regular season?

Two teams are competing for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, and it will go down to the wire. Only one playoff matchup is set in either conference, with plenty of movement still possible throughout the Western Conference.

The tank race has heated up, especially with traded and protected picks still very much up in the air.

Here are the games to follow and what they mean.

More: Power Rankings | Top 100 prospects | Traded picks Insider

East playoff race

Games to watch

• Magic @ Hornets | Wednesday, 8 p.m. ET ()
• Pistons @ Knicks | Wednesday, 8 p.m. ET
• Heat @ Nets | Wednesday, 8 p.m. ET

The (40-41) and Charlotte Hornets (39-42) are battling for the 16th playoff spot, and the Hornets own the tiebreaker. If the Pistons win or the Hornets lose, Detroit is in. Charlotte needs a win and a Detroit loss to grab the spot.

After the Pistons’ win on Tuesday, the Heat are officially out of the playoff race.

East playoff seeding

West playoff race

The eight Western Conference playoff teams have been locked in for weeks, but the seeding will go down to the wire.


There are still some convoluted tiebreakers up in the air in the West for teams that finish with the same record. A refresher on the order in which these can shake out in a two-team tie:

If three or more teams are tied, then a division winner gets first priority, followed by winning percentage in games among the tied teams.

Games with the most at stake

• Nuggets @ Jazz | Tuesday, 9 p.m. ET
• Rockets @ Thunder | Tuesday, 9:30 p.m. ET (TNT)
• Timberwolves @ Nuggets | Wednesday, 10:30 p.m. ET
• Jazz @ Clippers | Wednesday, 10:30 p.m. ET ()

Draft odds at stake

The tweaked lottery system hasn’t eradicated the tank race down the stretch. There are precious pingpong ball combinations up for grabs that will affect traded picks and odds to get one of the coveted top three selections (bringing a chance to select Zion Williamson, Ja Morant or RJ Barrett).

Go here for a full breakdown of how the new lottery works.

Games to watch and what they mean

• Warriors @ Pelicans | Tuesday, 8 p.m. ET
• Suns @ Mavericks | Tuesday, 8:30 p.m. ET
• Warriors @ Grizzlies | Wednesday, 8 p.m. ET
• Mavericks @ Spurs | Wednesday, 8 p.m. ET