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PLAYOFF POSITIONING
Posted by By John Schuhmann on April 6, 2006 10:00 a.m. ET

STILL A LOT OF WORK TO BE DONE

Every team has seven or eight games left, except for the Kings (who have six) and the Nets (who have nine), and there is plenty that can happen between now and April 19th. Only seven teams have been eliminated from the playoffs (and they're still playing to see who gets the most - or least - ping pong balls). Detroit is the only team that is locked into it's playoff seed, but they're still playing for homecourt should they meet San Antonio or Dallas in the Finals.

There were several key games last night Around the Association. The most important of them was the matchup between the Bulls and Sixers in Philadelphia. The Bulls won by seven to take over the eighth and final spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
[Chicago Tribune (reg. req'd)]

The Sixers will have a chance to get back into a tie with a win in against Boston on Friday before the two teams meet again on Saturday in Chicago.

In Boston, the Wizards solidified thier hold on the fifth seed, while the Celtics (now four games back of Chicago) showed, according to Doc Rivers, that they're not as motivated.
[Washington Times, Boston Globe]

During the course of the game, Gilbert Arenas had a revelation.
[Washington Post]

Elsewhere in the East, the Pacers pulled back to within 1/2 game of the Bucks for the sixth seed by ending their five-game losing skid, while Milwaukee lost their second game in as many nights.
[Indianapolis Star, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]

Out West, Chris Paul recorded his second triple-double in his last three games to lead the Hornets to a key victory over the Warriors. New Orleans knows that the pressure is on.
[The Oklahoman (reg. req'd)]

New Orleans/Oklahoma City couldn't inch any closer to the Kings for the eighth spot though, as Sacramento stunned the Spurs at the AT&T Center, in what could be a first-round playoff preview.
[Sacramento Bee (reg. req'd)]

Just in case the two teams meet, Ron Artest has already started campaigning for more calls. While he's at it, he'll take the Defensive Player of the Year award too.
[Sacramento Bee (reg. req'd), San Antonio Express News]

In Phoenix, the Clippers kept their dream of a Pacific Division title alive by beating the Suns.
[Los Angeles Daily News]

MORE GOOD STUFF AHEAD

If last night didn't have enough playoff implications for you, there's an interesting double-header on tap tonight on TNT. In the first game, the Heat will meet the Pistons at 8 ET, in what could be a preview of the Eastern Conference Finals. As we said earlier, the Pistons are locked into the No. 1 seed, but they still have plenty to play for tonight.
[Detroit Free Press]

They won't have to deal with as much Shaq as in the past, which may be a good thing for Miami.
[South Florida Sun-Sentinel]

In the second game of the double-header, the Lakers visit Denver in the first of two big road games that will serve as a good test for Los Angeles.
[Los Angeles Times (reg. req'd)]

And if that isn't enough hoops for you, flip over to League Pass to see the Nets try to tie a franchise record with their 14th straight victory.
[New York Post]

INJURY UPDATES

Before falling to the Clippers, the Suns learned that Amare Stoudemire is done for the season after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his other knee.
[Arizona Republic]

The Heat have several injuries to deal with, including tendinitis in the right knee of Jason Williams, which will keep him out for the remainder of the regular season.
[Miami Herald]

HAVE YOU SEEN HER?

The 2006 WNBA Draft took place Wednesday, with the Minnesota Lynx taking Seimone Augustus of LSU with the No. 1 pick, while the New York Libery might have the steal of the first round in Georgia's Sherill Baker.
[WNBA.com, Minneapolis Star Tribune, redandblack.com]

In all, this may be one of the strongest drafts in WNBA history and probably the biggest production the league has ever put on for the event.
[WNBA.com]

TIP-INS

The Sonics are on the market.
[Tacoma News Tribune]

This summer, Peja will be on the market too.
[Indianapolis Star]

The Rockets and Nets have more in common than the height of their coaches.
[Houston Chronicle]

HALL CALL
Posted by By Jeff Dengate on April 3, 2006 8:00 a.m. ET

TODAY'S HONOREES, TOMORROW'S GREATS

Today, much of the hoops world will be looking back at the past, but we can also look ahead to the future. Make that the present.

Before Saturday's matchup between the Heat and Cavaliers, Ira Winderman wrote of the budding rivalry between LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.
-- [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]

Ninety-one points later, it's safe to say we got a taste of things to come. James and Wade engaged in a good old-fashioned shootout.
-- [New York Times]

The two traded highlight-reel moves that left even their teammates and coaches astonished.
-- [Cleveland Plain Dealer]

And while a lot of people will look no further than their point totals in the boxscore and the video highlights on ESPN, do yourself the favor and read Terry Pluto's account of the duel.
-- [Akron Beacon Journal]

Or you can watch our video highlights here.
-- [NBA.com]

While the Hall of Fame is a long way off for both of these young stars, today's the day for a few former NBA stars.

So, who's in? Well, we'll have the official list later today, but we're hearing four names.
-- [Hartford Courant]

You never can be sure, however, as one AP report citing an anonymous official simply lists Charles Barkley as a finalist.
-- [New York Times]

Meanwhile, Phil Jasner is reporting that Barkley's a first-ballot honoree.
-- [Philadelphia Daily News]

Of course, some of us thought 'Nique was a first-timer, too, when he was up for induction last year.
-- [NBA.com]

But it sounds like this is the year he's shown a little love back.
-- [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]

And, like Wilkins, Detroit's Joe Dumars is reported to be getting the call in his second year of eligibility.
-- [Detroit News]

But, those are only reports. Others could include: Van Chancellor, Adrian Dantley, Pedro Ferrandiz, Sandro Gamba, David Gavitt, John Isaacs, Gene Keady, Don Nelson, Ralph Sampson, Chet Walker, and Dick Vitale. Check back today when the announcement is made from the Final Four in Indianapolis.

TIP INS

On Sunday, Antonio McDyess refused to start in the place of Rasheed Wallace.
-- [Detroit News]

But, on Tuesday, he probably won't have any choice, as 'Sheed picked up his 16th technical foul and will likely serve a one-game suspension. A suspension will snap the team's record of 73 straight games using a single lineup.
-- [Detroit Free Press]

Kobe Bryant scored 43 on Sunday, tying Elgin Baylor's franchise mark for most 40-plus games (23) in a season.
-- [Los Angeles Daily News]

Hinrich and the Bulls passed the Sixers on Wednesday.
(Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images)
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
Moses Malone, on one-time teammate Charles Barkely, who's believed to be named to the Hall of Fame's class of 2006:

"When he first got here, he was about 285 [pounds] and always told me he could play at 285. I said, 'The only way you can play at 285 is if you play for the Philadelphia Eagles.'"
-- [Philadelphia Daily News]

2005-06 ARCHIVE
Mar. 31 -- Will Suns Rise?
Mar. 24 -- Artest Fit For A King
Mar. 17 -- Almost Doesn't Count
Mar. 10 -- A Magical Game
Mar. 3 -- Revenge of the Herds
Feb. 13 -- The Heat is On
Feb. 10 -- Left Out in the Cold
Feb. 3 -- We're Going Streaking!
Jan. 27 -- Trade Winds Blow
Jan. 23 -- Points a Plenty
Jan. 20 -- Give the King a Break
Jan. 13 -- Who's the Man?
Dec. 1 -- Welcome Back, Larry
Nov. 17 -- League Pass Surfing
Nov. 10 -- Setting OWGs Straight
Nov. 4 -- Season Underway
Oct. 27 -- The Central Is Stacked
Oct. 19 -- All Dressed Up
Oct. 14 -- LeBron Out Of Hospital
2004-05 -- Archive
2003-04 -- Archive