Much to be Decided on Season's Final DayDallas and Detroit have clinched the number one seeds in the Western and Eastern Conferences respectively but there is still a lot to be decided for several teams as the NBA season concludes with Wednesday's games. Chicago and Cleveland are battling down to the wire to get the second seed in the East. Both teams are 49-32 but Chicago holds the tiebreaker edge and can clinch the second seed with a win at New Jersey. Cleveland needs to beat Milwaukee at home and hope for a New Jersey victory. The good news for Cleveland is that New Jersey also has something at stake, because the Nets can move into the sixth spot--and a matchup against third seed Toronto, the least experienced of the top teams in the East--with a win against the Bulls. The Nets have won two of their three games against the Bulls this year but the Bulls just waxed the Nets 105-74 in their most recent meeting on April 6. The Bulls have won three games in a row and six of their last eight, while the Nets have also won three games in a row and six of their last eight. Look for the Bulls to win a close game; they are the better team and they understand that there is a world of difference between playing the defending champion Miami Heat in the first round and playing whichever team lands in the seventh spot. Since the NBA automatically places the three division winners among the top four seeds, either Chicago or Cleveland is going to drop not to third but to fifth--and a first round date with the Heat. Chicago or Cleveland would have homecourt advantage in that series but that is simply not the route you want to take if you can avoid it; playing Miami in the first round and then probably Detroit in the second round is the toughest scenario possible for an Eastern Conference team. The second seed would only have to face one of those teams--and not until the Eastern Conference Finals.
Out West, the top six seeds are set, as are two of the series matchups: third seed San Antonio will play sixth seed Denver and fifth seed Houston will have homecourt advantage against fourth seed Utah (Utah is awarded the fourth seed for winning the Northwest Division but Houston has the better record). The Lakers have also clinched a playoff spot but need a win in Sacramento or a Golden State Warriors loss at Portland to keep the seventh seed. The L.A. Clippers need a win at home against the Hornets and a Warriors loss or they will miss the playoffs. Dallas will play whichever team lands at eighth and Phoenix will play the seventh seed. The Clippers have won three of their last four but the Warriors have won four in a row and eight of their last nine; Golden State will beat Portland and grab the last playoff spot, while the Lakers will defeat Sacramento to set up a rematch of last year's first round series with Phoenix.
Wednesday night will definitely be a good time to keep one eye on the court and the other eye on the scoreboard, both for fans and players.
posted by David Friedman @ 3:23 AM