Seven Aussies set for NBA playoff action
BEN Simmons will lead a seven-strong Australian contingent heading to the NBA Playoffs.
The Philadelphia 76ers star will be joined by compatriots Jonah Bolden, Andrew Bogut, Joe Ingles, Aron Baynes, Patty Mills and Thon Maker.
After 82 games, the regular season closed on Wednesday (local time) with a whimper as coaches rested their stars ahead of what should be a torrid first round of match-ups starting this weekend.
The 76ers, locked into the Eastern Conference's third seed, opted not to play Simmons and the rest of their starters - Joel Embiid, Jimmy Butler, Tobias Harris and JJ Redick - but still beat the woeful Chicago Bulls 125-109.
Bolden also sat out after leaving Tuesday's game against the Miami Heat with left knee soreness.
The 76ers will face the rising Brooklyn Nets and it will not be an easy series for Simmons and his team, which has been bolstered by mid-season elite recruits Butler and Harris.
"Star players win in the playoffs and that's what we're built for," 76ers general manager Elton Brand told reporters.
Bogut will be feeling deja vu after quitting the NBA for the NBL. He is back in the playoffs with the reigning champion Golden State Warriors, where he won a title in 2015.
The Warriors, guaranteed the Western Conference's top seed, rested All-Stars Steph Curry, DeMarcus Cousins and Draymond Green and started Bogut in Wednesday's meaningless 132-117 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies.
The Warriors play the eighth-seeded Los Angeles Clippers in the first round.
The Clippers finished their regular season with a 143-137 overtime win against Ingles' Utah Jazz.
The Jazz were locked in the West's fifth seed win or lose. They will face the dangerous Houston Rockets, who have fallen to fourth.
The Portland Trail Blazers appeared to be the fourth seed as they trailed the Sacramento Kings by 28 points.
But they staged a rally and won 136-131 to grab the West's third seed and a match-up with sixth-placed Oklahoma City.
At the start of the regular season Baynes' Boston Celtics were the favourites to top the East, but injuries and locker room turmoil led to a bumpy year.
The Celtics, in fourth, can expect a rugged first round series against the fifth-seeded Indiana Pacers.
Mills' San Antonio Spurs are heading back to the playoffs for the record-tying 22nd straight season.
It has not been the smoothest of seasons but they did snare the seventh seed and would fancy their chances in the first round against the Denver Nuggets, the West's second seed.
Maker's Detroit Pistons had plenty to play for with a 115-89 win against the NBA's worst team, the New York Knicks, sealing the eighth and final playoff spot in the East.
The Pistons play a team Maker knows plenty about - the NBA's top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks, who finished the regular season with 60 wins and 22 losses.
It was the Bucks who drafted Maker in 2016, but in January after watching his court time drop, he requested a trade and landed in Detroit.
EASTERN CONFERENCE PLAYOFF MATCH-UPS
(1) Milwaukee Bucks vs (8) Detroit Pistons
(2) Toronto Raptors vs (7) Orlando Magic
(3) Philadelphia 76ers vs (6) Brooklyn Nets
(4) Boston Celtics vs (5) Indiana Pacers
WESTERN CONFERENCE PLAYOFF MATCH-UPS
(1) Golden State Warriors vs (8) Los Angeles Clippers
(2) Denver Nuggets vs (7) San Antonio Spurs
(3) Portland Trail Blazers vs (6) Oklahoma City Thunder
(4) Houston Rockets vs (5) Utah Jazz