A look at the NBA playoff picture
A look at where things stand in the NBA playoff picture, with eight days remaining in the regular season:
The race for No. 1 got muddled, and the chase for No. 8 got more interesting.
Miami lost at home to Brooklyn – the Nets went 4-0 against the Heat this season, and that doesn’t include a 2-0 preseason mark against the reigning champs, either – while Atlanta fell at home to Detroit.
So Tuesday night’s big winners out of the East: Indiana and New York, neither of whom actually played.
The Pacers are now a half-game back of Miami in the race for No. 1, the Knicks moved within 1 1/2 games of the Hawks in the chase for No. 8.
San Antonio lost to Minnesota and Oklahoma City beat Sacramento, but all that probably only delays what still looks inevitable – the Spurs still have an extremely firm grasp on the No. 1 seed out West and home-court advantage throughout the entirety of the playoffs.
Dallas moved closer to wrapping up a spot by topping Utah. Houston beat the Los Angeles Lakers 145-130, keeping the Rockets well on pace for the No. 4 seed and home-court in the first round.
Miami at Memphis: Grizzlies one game back of the No. 8 spot out West. Heat – still without Dwyane Wade – aren’t exactly cruising right now.
Indiana at Milwaukee: Pacers could vault to No. 1 in East if Miami stumbles at Memphis. A loss to the Bucks would be disaster for reeling Indy.
Oklahoma City at Los Angeles Clippers: Two teams good enough to win it all, in a likely Western Conference semifinal preview.
Philadelphia at Toronto: Raptors and Bulls vying for third-best record in East.
Chicago at Minnesota: Wolves just handled Spurs with ease. Tom Thibodeau surely will ensure the Bulls noticed.
Charlotte at Washington: Game apart in East in race for No. 6, which would mean no Miami or Indiana in opening round.
Brooklyn at Orlando: If Nets want to open at home, this can’t slip away.
Boston at Atlanta: A home-home back-to-back for Hawks. Lose this one, and Knicks will have serious hope.
Detroit at Cleveland: Cavs have to think they need to go 4-0 to have any shot.
Phoenix at New Orleans: Suns start day No. 8 in West, are 3-0 against Pelicans this season.
Houston at Denver: Rockets beat Nuggets on Sunday, could put stranglehold on No. 4 seed with win.
Sacramento at Portland: If the Blazers want a serious shot at the 4 seed, they can’t stumble here.
First-round matchups if the season ended Tuesday…
East: Miami-Atlanta, Indiana-Charlotte, Toronto-Washington, Chicago-Brooklyn.
West: San Antonio-Phoenix, Oklahoma City-Dallas, Clippers-Golden State, Houston-Portland.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
”If we are going to try to win a championship this year, we know we’re probably going to have to go through Miami.” – Paul Pierce, after Brooklyn finished its season sweep of the Heat.
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