The NBA hoped for drama and intrigue galore when introducing the current play-in-tournament format in 2021. The wild finish in the Eastern Conference and the pending playoff matchups — most notably for the second-seeded Knicks — certainly played out that way on the final Sunday of the regular season.

The pairings for the first round of the playoffs mostly are set, except for the opponents for the cruising top-seeded Celtics and the rising No. 2 Knicks, who must await the outcomes of the 7-10 play-in tournament early this week.

The Knicks will find out their opponent first, and it will be a tough draw either way. That’s their reward for overtaking the banged-up Bucks with their first 50-win season since 2012-13.

Tom Thibodeau’s squad will face the winner of the 7-8 game between the Sixers, who recently got back 2022-23 MVP Joel Embiid from a lengthy injury absence, and Jimmy Butler’s Heat.

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