Happy Saturday. Yesterday was a 1-3 day after the Suns fell apart late. Burn the tape and move on. We’ll be better today. Let’s find some winners. But first, let’s take an updated look at the standings after last night’s action…
The East’s guaranteed playoff spots are officially set –
1) The Bucks sat most of their rotation players and fell apart in the third quarter of last night’s loss to the Grizzlies. The Heat, Hawks, Raptors, and Bulls all remain as first round possibilities for Milwaukee, who can face either the Knicks or Cavs in the second round.
2) The Celtics rolled past the Raptors, beating them for the second time this week. The Heat and Hawks are the first round possibilities for Boston, who will play the winner of Sixers/Nets if they advance to the second round.
3) The Sixers sat a ton of guys but still managed to top the Hawks last night. They’ll face the Nets in the first round, and then they’ll face a very tall task in taking on the Celtics without home court advantage.
4) The Cavs will get the Knicks in the first round, and the Bucks will likely await if they can get to the second round.
5) The Knicks ran out of steam late against the Pelicans; neither Julius Randle nor Jalen Brunson played. They’ll be facing the Cavs in the first round.
6) The Nets needed one more win or one more Heat loss to clinch the 6 seed, and they got one of each last night. All eyes on Philly.
The four play-in teams are now locked in –
7) The Heat will be the 7 seed after their skeleton crew lost in Washington last night while the Nets rolled over the Magic. They’ll open the play-in with a home game against the Hawks or Raptors. Winning that one gives them the 7 seed in the playoffs. Losing puts them in another home game – this time for the 8 seed with the winner of the 9/10 game.
8) The Hawks, despite being at pretty much full strength, managed to lose to the Sixers’ bench mob in Atlanta. It didn’t matter though, as the Raptors lost to lock up the 8 seed for the Hawks. Atlanta will visit Miami for the right to face the Celtics. If they lose, they’ll host either the Raptors or Bulls for the right to face the Bucks.
9) The Raptors lost to the Celtics again, which means they’ll be the 9 seed. They get Chicago in Toronto in a win-or-go-home game and then visit either Miami or Atlanta with the 8 seed – and a chance to take on the Bucks – on the line.
10) The Bulls are locked into the 10 seed. That means they’ll be going on the road to Toronto and then, if they win, visiting the loser of the Heat-Hawks game. So Chicago will need to win two road games to get into the playoffs and face the Bucks.
The bottom 5 –
11) The Wizards beat the Heat, and they’ll fall to the 8 spot in the lottery as a result. With their remaining game coming against the Rockets, they might not get the chance to finish any lower. That will likely depend on how restful the Knicks (play Pacers in season finale) and Heat (Magic) decide to be in their final games. If the Wizards lose, they can finish with the 5 spot in the lottery with two more Blazers wins, one more Pacers win, and one more Magic win. That’s obviously incredibly unlikely, but they can grab the 6 spot with two of the three or the 7 spot with just one of the three.
12) The Pacers hold the 12 seed (and the 7 spot in the lottery) after losing to the Pistons last night. They get the 8 spot with a win and a Wizards loss. They keep the 7 spot with either a loss or a win and a Wizards win and then a Magic loss and two Blazers losses. They can move up to 6 with a loss and then either a Magic win or a Blazers win (in either of their last two games). If both of those Magic and Blazers results happen, along with the Pacers loss, they can grab the 5 spot.
13) The Magic have the 13 seed and the 6 spot in the lottery after getting blown out in Brooklyn. They keep that spot with one more loss, unless the Blazers win one more, in which case Orlando would move up to the 5 spot. Falling in the lottery pecking order requires both a win and Wizards and/or Pacers losses.
Worth noting here – the Blazers (5 in the lottery) will very likely lock up that top 5 spot by losing to the Clippers and Warriors, who are both still fighting to secure top six spots out West.
14) The Hornets will have the league’s fourth-worst record.
15) The Pistons will have the league’s worst-record.
The top four is locked up –
1) The Nuggets can still play anyone in the 5-10 seed range (Warriors, Clippers, Lakers, Pelicans, Timberwolves, Thunder) in the first round.
2) The Grizzlies needed either one more win or one more Kings loss to clinch the 2 seed, and they got both. There are a number of potential first round opponents here too – the Warriors, Clippers, Lakers, Pelicans, and Timberwolves could all land the 7 or 8 seed, which would get them in the 7/8 game with a chance to get the 7 seed.
3) The Kings are the 3 seed. The possible first round opponents are the Warriors, Clippers, Lakers, Pelicans, and Timberwolves.
4) The Suns gradually fell apart in a loss to the Lakers with a much-depleted rotation. The Warriors, Clippers, Lakers, and Pelicans are all on the table for the first round here. The Nuggets would await in the second round.
Plenty could change in the 5-9 range –
5) The Warriors control their own destiny for a guaranteed playoff spot, but they would get the 6 seed if both they and the Clippers win out. Last night’s win over Sacramento was huge. The 8 seed is still in play, however. They need to beat the Blazers tomorrow.
6) The Clippers’ magic number to clinch a top 7 seed (edging out the Timberwolves and Lakers) is 1. They also control their own destiny for the 5 seed, being a half game up on the Pelicans and owning the tiebreaker over the Warriors, who they’re currently half a game behind. Taking care of business against the Trail Blazers today can clinch that top seven spot heading into the final day of the season.
7) The Lakers took care of business against the Suns. The key here – LAL owns tiebreakers over both the Warriors and Pelicans. The 6 seed isn’t done quite yet. On the other hand, the Lakers could also still finish in the 8 seed if they lose to the Jazz tomorrow.
8) The Pelicans own the tiebreaker over the Clippers and could still beat out the Warriors by conference record, which they currently are tied in. They don’t own the tiebreaker over the Lakers, however. Beating the Knicks last night keeps options on the table, but they’ll need help from other teams to rise out of the 8 seed.
9) The Timberwolves are a game and a half back of the Pelicans and Lakers with two games to play. The effort to move up from the 9 seed needs to start with a win over the Spurs tomorrow.
The 10 seed is now OKC’s –
10) The Thunder clinched the 10 seed with the Mavs’ loss. They’ll need to win two road games to make the playoffs.
The bottom five –
11) The Mavs have tanked all the way out of the play-in. It’s been a rough year in Dallas. The 10 spot in the lottery is theirs.
12) The Jazz are out of the play-in for good after losing to the Thunder the other night. They’re locked into the 12 seed out West. They don’t own the tiebreaker over the Bulls, which means they can’t be any worse than the 9 spot in the lottery. They also own tiebreakers over the Pacers, Wizards, and Magic, which means they can’t be any better than the 9 spot in the lottery. So the 9 spot in the lottery it is.
13) The Blazers picked up a huge loss to the Spurs the other night. Lose to the Clippers and Warriors, and the lottery 5 spot is theirs.
The Rockets and Spurs are fighting for the honor of being second-worst –
14) The door is right back open for the Spurs after Houston beat Charlotte last night. If the Spurs lose to both the Timberwolves and Mavs (very doable), the 2 spot in the lottery is theirs.
15) The Rockets needed to lose in Charlotte and Washington, but they couldn’t get that done. Now they need help from either the Timberwolves or Mavs to end up in the lottery 2 spot.
NBA record: 224-196-7 ATS, 32-66 ML, 116-90-3 O/U, 1-9 parlay, 0-1 props, -21.55 units
- PARLAY: Timberwolves & Clippers MLs, Clippers-Blazers U230 (+120)
- PARLAY: Timberwolves & Clippers MLs, Jazz +6 (+120)
CBB record: 254-229-12 ATS, 57-83 ML, 5-5 O/U, 17-25 parlay, -9.83 units