A Look At The NBA Playoff Picture
TIM REYNOLDS, AP Basketball Writer
A look at where things stand in the NBA playoff picture, with six days remaining in the regular season:
Everyone in the Eastern Conference got the day off Thursday.
So with that, let’s continue hyping Friday’s Indiana-Miami game instead.
The Pacers had an off-day workout on Miami’s practice floor and plan to have their regular starting five back in the lineup. Pacers coach Frank Vogel gave the group the night off Wednesday in Milwaukee.
The Heat didn’t have practice, no surprise considering they’re in a five-games-in-seven-nights stretch.
San Antonio beat Dallas, so the Spurs’ magic number for wrapping up home-court advantage for the entire NBA playoffs is now one — another Spurs win or Oklahoma City loss is all it will take for last year’s finalists to close the deal there.
The only team that could have clinched on Thursday night fell short. Golden State blew a 20-point lead, at home, to Denver and wound up losing 100-99, so the Warriors still have to wait for their ticket back to the postseason.
Washington at Orlando: Wizards start the night 7th in East, but tied with No. 6 Charlotte.
New York at Toronto: Raptors hoping to finish No. 3 in East. Knicks probably have to win out to have any shot at playoffs.
Charlotte at Boston: Bobcats have won five straight, eyeing No. 6 spot and first-round that won’t include trips to Miami or Indianapolis.
Indiana at Miami: Winner will be atop East and in position to host Game 7 of conference finals. Biggest game of their seasons to date.
Atlanta at Brooklyn: Nets basically locked into No. 5. Hawks clinch final East spot with win and Knicks loss.
Detroit at Chicago: Why do Bulls want No. 3 so badly? No. 4 team in East probably opens with red-hot Brooklyn.
Houston at Minnesota: Rockets lead Portland by 1½ games in race for West No. 4, but have allowed 378 points in their last three games.
New Orleans at Oklahoma City: Thunder wrapping up No. 2 seed out West, and Kevin Durant likely putting finishing touches on MVP No. 1.
Philadelphia at Memphis: Grizzlies on outside looking in at West playoff picture. Cannot lose this game. Period.
Cleveland at Milwaukee: The only game Friday with no impact on playoff races.
Phoenix at San Antonio: Spurs set to be No. 1 overall seed. Finals loss almost seemed to invigorate them.
Portland at Utah: Blazers still in race for home-court in first round, but running out of time.
Golden State at L.A. Lakers: Possibly a warmup trip to Staples Center for Warriors, who could see Clippers in opening round.
First-round matchups if the season ended Thursday…
East: Indiana-Atlanta, Miami-Washington, Toronto-Charlotte, Chicago-Brooklyn.
West: San Antonio-Dallas, Oklahoma City-Phoenix, L.A. Clippers-Golden State, Houston-Portland.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“They are a special team.” — Dallas’ Shawn Marion, on San Antonio.
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