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STILL MOSTLY CLOUDY
Posted by By John Schuhamann on April 19, 2006 11:00 a.m. ET
ONLY TWO OF THE EIGHT SERIES ARE SET
We didn't get as many answers as we could have last night, but we do finally have a couple of playoff matchups to talk about. Still, on the last day of the regular season, we still have six seeds to determine.
The Grizzlies defeated the Clippers in Memphis, locking those two teams into the fifth and six seeds respectively.
-- [Memphis Commercial Appeal]
Memphis (48-33), the five seed, will face fourth-seeded Dallas (60-21) in the first round. Meanwhile, the Clippers (46-35) will have the home court advantage against third-seeded Denver (44-37). It's a bit backwards, you might say.
-- [Los Angeles Times]
In Sacramento, the Kings kept their hopes for the seventh seed alive by defeating the Sonics in their final game of the season. They will get the seventh seed, and a matchup with the Suns, if the Lakers lose to the Hornets on Wednesday. If the Lakers win, they get Phoenix and the Kings will face the Spurs in the one-eight series.
OK, so the West is pretty clear ...
(1) Spurs vs. (8) Kings or Lakers
(4) Mavs vs. (5) Grizzlies
(3) Nuggets vs. (6) Clippers
(2) Suns vs. (7) Lakers or Kings
In the East, the Bucks could have made things a little easier for us (by clinching the five seed with a win in Washington last night), but couldn't get the job done. Now, with their season done and no chance for that five spot, the Bucks will watch the Pacers and Bulls with interest tonight.
-- [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]
For Bucks fans (and writers), last night may have brought on a sense of deja-vu.
-- [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]
So, none of the top four seeds in the East know who they're playing yet, which is probably frustrating their video coordinators right now. Cleveland can focus in on two teams at this point though, the Wizards and the Bulls. The Pistons have narrowed it down to three. Meanwhile, the Nets could be facing any one of four teams. Same with the Heat.
-- [Cavs.com, Detroit Free Press, New York Post, South Florida Sun-Sentinel]
The Bulls and Pacers are at home tonight, against Toronto and Orlando respectively. The Wizards are in Detroit.
As it stands ...
(1) Pistons vs. (8) Bucks, Bulls or Pacers
(4) Cavs vs. (5) Wizards or Bulls
(3) Nets vs. (6) Pacers, Bucks, Bulls or Wizards
(2) Heat vs. (7) Bulls, Bucks, Pacers or Wizards
The other fourteen teams aren't without their drama ...
In Philly, a couple of guys showed up a little late for work.
-- [Philadelphia Inquirer]
Larry Brown is questionable for the Knicks finale tonight in New Jersey, but he's not going anywhere this summer.
-- [New York Post, Newark Star-Ledger]
Posted by By Brad Friedman on April 18, 2006 9:42 a.m. ET
SPURS LOCK UP TOP SPOT IN THE WEST
On Monday night, San Antonio defeated Utah 115-82, to clinch the No. 1 seed
in the West and home court advantage at least through the Conference Finals.
"With home-court advantage, we are in a spot that we want to be in," Spurs pivot Tim Duncan said following the contest. "We are going to do what we can with it. We had a good season. We had some rough patches, but those are the times that we come together and solidify ourselves as a team."
Rough patches and all, it makes you wonder how the Spurs do it and make it look so routine. This is their fifth division title in the past six seasons. In a season which the Spurs tied the franchise record for wins (62), this is also a club whose players have said "they hadn't played that well."
-- [San Antonio Express-News, ESPN.com]
Dallas, whom the Spurs traded places with all season for the best record in the West, not only lost out on the No. 1 seed, but slips to No. 4 as a result of a second-place finish in the Southwest Division.
Though we know which teams are fighting for them, the bottom four seeds in the East Bracket remain unclinched
. The Wizards, a half a game ahead of Chicago, Indiana and Milwaukee, currently have claim on the No. 5 seed . The clubs chasing them all have identical 40-41 records, promising a playoff race until the last day of the season.
-- [The Washington Post
Even when it looked like the tie could dissolve Monday night, the Bulls, Pacers and Bucks refused to seperate, all garnering wins.
Chicago put together a valiant 116-112 overtime win on the road against Orlando, previous winners of 12 straight at home and eight overall. The Bulls conclude their season versus the Raptors Wednesday.
Indiana preserved the three-way tie for sixth place in the East with a 120-95 road blowout in Toronto. The Pacers will face red-hot Magic in their season finale on Wednesday.
Milwaukee also came up huge with a 113-93 win over Detroit. The Bucks visit the Wizards (40-40) in their last game of the season tonight and could move into the No. 5 spot.
You can find how these teams would be seeded if the playoffs started today by checking out NBA.com's Playoff Picture feature.
WHO WANTS THE NO. 5 SEED?
With Dallas slipping to the four seed in the West, that means the No. 5 seeded club will play a 60-win team and the No. 6 seed matches up with Northwest Division champion Denver (44-37), owner of the No. 3 seed.
Memphis is just one game ahead of the Clippers for the No. 5 position, but making things more interesting is that these squads will be pairing up tonight. The Grizzlies would clinch with a 'W.'
-- [Memphis Commerical Appeal]
Although the loser appears to have more to gain than the winner and it's almost a no-win situation for both clubs, the competitive nature from both sides is hard to shake.
-- [Newsday, L.A. Times, Reg req'd]
Grizzlies sixth man Mike Miller sounded as though not trying to win any game is a sin when asked about the subject by a Memphis Commerical Appeal beat writer.
-- [Memphis Commerical Appeal]
Echoed teammate Shane Battier, "You try to mess with the basketball gods, they punish you in the end."
"Well, I know I'm going out to give optimum effort," Clippers forward Elton Brand said in the L.A. Times. "That's the only way I know how to play, and nothing is going to change that."
-- [L.A. Times, Reg req'd]
WHO WANTS THE NO. 7 SEED?
If Sacramento loses tonight against Seattle
or the Los Angeles Lakers beat New Orleans on Wednesday, the Lakers get the No. 7 seed. If the Kings win their season finale and the Lakers lose theirs, the Kings get the No. 7 seed.
-- [San Antonio Express-News
AND THEN THERE WERE EIGHT
Posted by By Jeff Dengate on April 17, 2006 10:30 a.m. ET
PLAYOFFS TEAMS SET, BUT POSITIONS IN LIMBO
Your team in or out?
More important, who are they playing in the first round?
Not sure? Well, don't worry, you're not alone. While all eight of the playoff teams are locked-in in each conference, the individual seeds are still up for grabs -- perhaps none more so than the Nos. 1 and 4 out West.
You've likely read the scenario, because the Spurs and Mavs have the top records in the conference, the division winner gets the top seed while the runner-up falls to four, behind the Suns and Mavericks -- also division winners.
If the Mavs hope to avoid playing the Grizzlies in the first round -- currently they're one game up on the Clippers for the fifth slot -- they're going to need a little help from the Jazz and Rockets.
The Spurs number to clinch the top record in the West is down to 1. That means any Spurs win OR Mavericks loss settles the issue. The Spurs host Utah tonight before traveling to Houston Wednesday. The Mavs, meanwhile, are off until they close the season Wednesday vs. the Clippers.
But don't expect the Jazz to do Dallas any favors -- not after last night, at least.
-- [Dallas Morning News, Reg. req'd]
The Mavs rolled over Utah to collect win No. 60 on the season, keeping their division hopes alive while snuffing out the any playoff aspirations the Jazz had.
-- [Fort Worth Star-Telegram and Salt Lake Tribune]
So, while the top seed can be settled tonight, does it really matter all that much? In case you're wondering, the Spurs say no.
-- [San Antonio Express-News]
I'm not totally buying that rhetoric. You have to believe everybody from the front office on down wants to be hosting the first two games vs. Dallas in the second round, should the two teams advance.
As a No. 4 seed last year, the Mavs took the Suns to six games in the Western Conference Semifinals, after winning the opening round on their home floor in Game 7.
Houston, the third piece in this Texas triangle, could also help the Mavs, but don't count on it. They've been long gone from the playoff picture, turning their thoughts to the healing process.
-- [Houston Chronicle]
Barring any major collapse by the Spurs -- and, yes, dropping two games at this point vs. non-playoff-bound teams can be termed a collapse -- the Spurs will face either the Kings or Lakers in the first round. With one game remaining for both teams, the Lakers currently hold a one-game lead on the Kings in the standings. The Kings, with a better division record, hold the tie-breaker, should it be needed.
The bottom half of the East, where a lone game separates Nos. 5-8, is also up for grabs.
The Wizards have the inside track on the No. 5 spot -- holding a one-game lead on the logjam that is Indiana, Milwaukee and Chicago -- setting up a re-run of yesterday's matchup with the Cavaliers.
-- [Washington Post]
Well, "re-run" may not be accurate given LeBron's not likely to sit out the fourth quarter as he did yesterday.
As for the above-mentioned Pacers, Bucks and Bulls, I'm thinking the Bucks slide to the No. 8 seed. Wait, just a second, Rob Peterson, before you edit out this statement. Here's why: the Bucks host Detroit tonight and travel to Washington tomorrow. The Bucks haven't won a game against Detroit all season. Then again, they haven't yet lost to the Wizards.
-- [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]
But, here's more reason: Indiana and Chicago each have games remaining against Toronto and Orlando. Yes, the Magic have been hot lately, but how will they respond after making their huge push for the playoffs, only to fall short yesterday?
-- [Orlando Sentinel]
Okay, enough with my predictions. I too will be glued to the action over the next few days along with you all to see how it shakes out.
Not so bad, boys
-- [Detroit News
Worst isn't assured first, as I found out first hand last May.
-- [Charlotte Observer and NBA.com]
After 743 games (and counting), Shareef Abdur-Rahim is finally on his way to the postseason.
-- [Sacramento Bee]