What We Learned: Saturday's impact on playoff picture

NBA.com Staff

Apr 9, 2017 3:36 AM ET

With the 2017 Playoffs a week away, an eight-game night in the NBA on Saturday was bound to produce clinches, eliminations and matchup locks.

One particular outcome ensured a first-round battle between the No. 3 seed Houston Rockets and No. 6 seed Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference, a matchup that will consist of the league's top MVP candidates in James Harden and Russell Westbrook.

Here's what happened on Saturday as four days remain in the regular season:

  • The L.A. Clippers' win over the San Antonio Spurs secured a first-round pairing with the Utah Jazz in the West. The two teams will face off in the 4-5 matchup, though home court has yet to be decided.
  • L.A.'s win over San Antonio locked Oklahoma City into the No. 6 seed. Houston sealed the No. 3 slot days ago, which means a first-round showdown between the league's top MVP candidates is officially in play.
  • After beating the Utah Jazz, the Portland Trail Blazers extended their lead over the Denver Nuggets for the eighth spot in the West to 1.5 games. A Nuggets loss or Blazers win over the next few days secures Portland the West's final playoff seed.
  • The Atlanta Hawks clinched their 10th straight playoff berth after the Chicago Bulls lost to the Brooklyn Nets. Atlanta currently controls its own destiny in the Eastern Conference's fifth seed.
  • The Milwaukee Bucks earned a playoff spot with a win over the Philadelphia 76ers. Coach Jason Kidd's team, making their second postseason appearance in three seasons, is currently a half game back of the East's fifth slot.
  • The Indiana Pacers moved into sole possession of the East's No. 7 seed with a win over the Orlando Magic and a Bulls loss to the Nets.
  • Chicago's loss to Brooklyn brought the Bulls to 39-41. They currently remain in the East's 8th seed and own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Miami Heat, who sit in the ninth slot with the same record.
  • The Heat kept their playoff hopes alive with a tight victory over the Washington Wizards on the road.
  • The Detroit Pistons have been eliminated from playoff contention following the Pacers' win over the Magic.
  • The Charlotte Hornets have been eliminated from playoff contention following a loss to the Boston Celtics.

The playoffs begin on April 15. Keep track of how the bracket is shaping up here.

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