The Portland Trail Blazers gained the first advantage in the hunt for the Western Conference's No. 8 seed Friday.
Portland moved within 2.5 games of the Memphis Grizzlies by way of a head-to-head victory, but it still has a long way to go to either clinch that position outright or land in the play-in series.
San Antonio and Phoenix picked up victories Friday, while Sacramento dropped back level with New Orleans.
Over in the Eastern Conference, the Orlando Magic pulled ahead in the fight for the No. 7 seed by beating the Brooklyn Nets, who they face once more in their final seven seeding games.
The complexion of the East standings could change more Saturday, as Miami, Philadelphia and Indiana take to the floor for the first time.
Updated NBA Standings
1. Milwaukee (54-12)
2. Toronto (46-18)
3. Boston (43-22)
4. Miami (41-24)
5. Indiana (39-26)
6. Philadelphia (39-26)
7. Orlando (31-35)
8. Brooklyn (30-35)
9. Washington (24-41)
All Milwaukee needs to lock up the No. 1 seed is one more victory or one loss from Toronto.
Friday's seven-point win over Boston was powered by 36 points and 15 rebounds from Giannis Antetokounmpo.
With the top seed close to secured, the Bucks can worry about sharpening their form while not dealing with the stress of a seeding race.
The Celtics will enter Saturday with a two-game advantage on Miami, and they are four games in front of the Pacers and Sixers.
Since Miami plays Denver and Indiana faces Philadelphia, Boston may not give up any ground after the first full set of games.
Orlando's win over Brooklyn meant the most in the playoff picture because it moved the Magic out of a potential first-round meeting with the Bucks for now.
The Magic could remain in that position if they benefit from their second head-to-head meeting with Brooklyn August 11 and win a few more contests.
The Nets are still in decent shape to avoid a play-in series with Washington, who fell to Phoenix Friday.
Brooklyn holds a six-game buffer between itself and Washington, and as long as Washington does not get within four games, it will qualify as the No. 8 seed.
1. Los Angeles Lakers (50-14)
2. Los Angeles Clippers (44-21)
3. Denver (43-22)
4. Utah (42-23)
5. Houston (41-24)
6. Oklahoma City (40-24)
7. Dallas (40-28)
8. Memphis (32-34)
9. Portland (30-37)
10. San Antonio (28-36)
11. New Orleans (28-37)
12. Sacramento (28-37)
13. Phoenix (27-39)
Portland's overtime triumph over Memphis may have altered the balance of power in the race for the No. 8 seed.
The Trail Blazers were reinvigorated by the return of Jusuf Nurkic, who posted 18 points, nine rebounds, six blocks, five assists and two steals, and they received a pair of massive three-point shots from Carmelo Anthony at the end of regulation.
With Nurkic and Zach Collins in front of Hassan Whiteside on the depth chart, the Blazers could match up with any of their opponents in the paint.
Portland will need the big men to support Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum moving forward since it faces a tricky schedule in Orlando.
The Blazers take on Boston Sunday and then face Houston, Denver the Los Angeles Clippers and Philadelphia before closing with Dallas and Brooklyn.
If they can get to the final two games within striking distance of the No. 8 seed, the Blazers should finish eighth or ninth.
Memphis could be pulled back to the pack of five chasing teams if it does not rebound from Friday's loss.
Ja Morant and Co. take on San Antonio and New Orleans in back-to-back days, and if they lose both, their advantage could be as small as a half-game.
San Antonio's best chance to make up ground on Memphis and Portland in the next week comes from Sunday's meeting with the Grizzlies. After that, the Spurs have to play Denver, Houston, Philadelphia and then Utah on two occasions.
New Orleans' schedule goes in the opposite direction after a Saturday clash with the Clippers. The Pelicans play their final six games against teams seeded seventh or worse in their respective conferences.
If Memphis, Portland and San Antonio want to hold off the Pelicans, they need to win whichever head-to-head meetings remain and pick up another victory or two at least.
Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90
Statistics obtained from NBA.com