NBA Lottery race tightens

BY foxsports • April 6, 2011

We know the Cavaliers are headed for the NBA Draft Lottery, two times over.

But after spending most of the season looking like a sure thing to enter the lottery with the best chance to secure the No. 1 overall pick, things are suddenly much more interesting.

About an hour after the Cavs won for the second time in two nights at Toronto Wednesday, Minnesota lost its 12th straight game -- this one at home to Phoenix -- to slip to 17-62. The Cavs are 17-61 and have four games left: Chicago, at Milwaukee, at Detroit and Washington.

The Timberwolves still play at Denver, at Phoenix and vs. Houston. None of those three games mean anything in terms of postseason ramifications to the Wolves' opponents, but at this point it's hard to believe that Minnesota could beat the Washington Generals.

The team that finishes with the worst record gets 25 percent of the 1,000 ping pong balls in the May 17 lottery. The team with the second-worst record gets 19.9 percent. If they finish tied, they'll split the difference.

The Cavaliers also own the Clippers' pick in the lottery. After losing Wednesday night, the Clippers have the eighth-worst record in the league and can finish no lower than eighth. They still could move as many as two spots "up", though, depending on how they finish and how the Bucks and Bobcats finish as well.

The eighth team in the lottery has a 2.8 chance of landing the No. 1 overall pick, but stranger things have happened. The Bulls landed Derrick Rose in 2008 despite having just a 1.7 percent chance coming into the lottery.

The lottery determines the draft's top three selections. If the Cavs finish with the league's worst record, the worst they could do is the No. 4 pick. The Clippers' pick, if it stays at No. 8, would have a 3.3 percent statistical chance of landing the No. 2 pick and a 3.9 percent chance at No. 3.

--Zac Jackson

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