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NBA: the Thunder, of Luguentz Dort, finishes first in the West

  • April 15, 2024
  • 7
  • 22

The young Oklahoma City Thunder team managed to finish at the top of the Western Conference at the end of the last day of the NBA regular season on Sunday, with LeBron James’ Los Angeles Lakers placing 8th, heading for the one-game play-offs play-offs.

The young Thunder finally in the lead

NBA: the Thunder finishes first in the West, LeBron James' Lakers one match away from the play-offs

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander during the final NBA regular season game against Dallas on Sunday / Joshua Gateley / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP

While the suspense remained between three teams, the Oklahoma City Thunder managed to retain the No. 1 place and therefore home field advantage for all the play-offs in the West. The Thunder crushed the Dallas Mavericks (135-86), who had rested their two stars Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving. Oklahoma City thus ends with the same record as champion Denver (57 wins – 25 losses), which it is ahead of thanks to its three successes in four direct confrontations this season. Only 14th in 2021 then 2022, and 10th in the West in 2023, first place validates the reconstruction of the franchise with a young group (less than 25 years of average age) led by the Canadian Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Third best scorer in the league with 30.1 points on average this season, “SGA” is one of the three favorites for the MVP distinction with Luka Doncic and Nikola Jokic.

Jokic, winner with Denver of Memphis (126-111) managed to move up a notch during this last day to 2nd place, taking advantage of the defeat of the Minnesota Timberwolves against Phoenix (125-106). The Wolves of French pivot Rudy Gobert (21 points, 7 rebounds), will meet the Suns of Kevin Durant, finally sixth, in the first round of the play-offs which will begin on April 20.

. LeBron James and Stephen Curry on a tightrope

NBA: the Thunder finishes first in the West, LeBron James' Lakers one match away from the play-offs

Lakers star LeBron James will have to participate with Los Angeles in the play-offs to reach the NBA play-offs / Tyler Kaufman / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP

To participate in the play-offs, stars LeBron James (Los Angeles Lakers) and Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors) will have to go through the play-offs. The Lakers, eighth, defeated the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday (124-108), whom they will meet on Tuesday in Louisiana for a dry match with a qualification for a first round against Denver at stake. The loser of this match will face the winner of the other play-off on Friday between Sacramento (9th) and Golden State (10th), the neighbors in northern California. Four times champions in the last ten years (2015, 2017, 2018 and 2022), Stephen Curry’s Warriors have two matches to try to save their season.

. The Knicks overtake the Bucks

While the Boston Celtics had extinguished the suspense in the lead for a long time with the best record in the league (64 wins – 18 losses), the New York Knicks snatched second place in the Eastern Conference from the Milwaukee Bucks thanks to a victory after overtime against Chicago (120-119). The Knicks put on a show in a Madison Square Garden which roared to the rhythm of its favorite Jalen Brunson (40 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists). Conversely, the Bucks lost in Orlando against the Magic (113-88), without their star Giannis Antetokounmpo for the third consecutive game, injured in the calf, which his team still hopes to recover for the first round against the Indiana Pacers. Orlando, fifth, will face the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round, beaten on Sunday by Charlotte (120-110) and finally fourth after having long hoped for second place.

. The Heat in the play-offs

An unfortunate finalist against Denver last year, the Miami Heat still had a small chance of qualifying directly for the play-offs, but will have to go through the perilous play-offs despite their success against Toronto (118-103). Eighth, the Heat will play an enticing match on Wednesday in Philadelphia against the 76ers of Joel Embiid, resting Sunday after returning from a knee injury last week. The winner of the match will challenge the Knicks in the first round, when the loser will still have a chance against the winner of the duel between the Chicago Bulls and the Atlanta Hawks.