A look at the NBA playoff picture
A look at where things stand in the NBA playoff picture, with two days remaining in the regular season and all 16 teams that will head to the postseason this weekend now having clinched their spots:
It’s coming into focus. Slowly.
Indiana will be the No. 1 seed, wrapping that up when Miami lost at Washington. So the Heat are the No. 2 seed, and Atlanta will play the Pacers starting this weekend.
Everything else? Who knows.
Toronto and Chicago will take the race for No. 3 down to the final day; the Raptors need a win or a Bulls loss to get that spot, with No. 4 going to the other club. Brooklyn can wrap up No. 5 with a win Tuesday. Washington has a chance at fifth, yet could finish No. 7. And Charlotte got a buzzer-beater win at Atlanta to keep its chance at finishing No. 6 – and avoiding Miami – alive.
Memphis grabbed the final available playoff spot by winning in Phoenix on Monday night, a tremendous game that wasn’t decided until the final seconds. The loss eliminated the Suns, who were one of the feel-good stories in the league all season.
Meanwhile, Oklahoma City still hasn’t clinched the No. 2 seed; the Thunder lost at New Orleans, extending the Los Angeles Clippers’ slim hopes of finishing second alive for at least another day.
So just like in the East, all that’s left to decide are some seedings. Fifth-seeded Portland will open at fourth-seeded Houston in the West quarterfinals; after that, just about everything will have to be decided after Wednesday’s slate of finales.
Houston clinched No. 4 by beating San Antonio – which will be the top seed – on Monday night. Golden State locked up No. 6 by topping Minnesota.
New York at Brooklyn: Nets playing for No. 5 seed. Knicks lead weird season series 2-1: New York has won by 30 and 29, Brooklyn by 23.
Denver at L.A. Clippers: Long shot, sure. But if the Clippers win here, and beat Portland, and OKC loses its finale to Detroit, Doc Rivers’ club gets No. 2.
First-round matchups if the season ended Monday…
East: Indiana-Atlanta, Miami-Charlotte, Toronto-Washington, Chicago-Brooklyn.
West: San Antonio-Memphis, Oklahoma City-Dallas, L.A. Clippers-Golden State, Houston-Portland.
NOTE OF THE DAY
Mike Miller loves this time of year. Including his season-high 21-point effort in Memphis’ big win Monday, he now has a total of four 20-point games in the last three seasons.
They’ve all come in April or June.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
”We were able to play everybody – no injuries – and we got a good sweat out of it.” – San Antonio’s Tony Parker, as his team tuned up for the playoffs in a loss to Houston.
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