The Daily Update 4.12.11
Eastern Conference playoff seeds are now locked in, and first round match-ups are decided. Some teams have begun to rest their players for the post-season, and there isn’t much left to play for. What will be interesting is whether or not certain teams look to continue their current hot stretch of play entering the playoffs. Tonight, the Knicks and the Bulls face off in what might be the best game of the day, but could also turn out to be a boring affair in which the benches see most of the action. The Bulls can still tie or pass the Spurs for the NBA’s best record. Here are the circumstances in which they would win home court advantage throughout the playoffs:
-Bulls win both games, Spurs lose both games (by overall record)
-Bulls win both games, Spurs lose to Lakers (by tie-breaker against playoff teams in their conference)
-Bulls beat Knicks, Spurs lose both games (by tie-breaker against playoff teams in their conference)
So they still have something to play for, even if continuing their post All-Star break isn’t a factor. The Knicks are also one of the hottest teams in the NBA and a playing at home against the Eastern Conference’s best team. Their fans are going to want a win, and I think it would be good for the Knicks to add a win against the Bulls to their streak going into the playoffs, especially if the Bulls are playing for home-court in the Finals. An 9 game winning stretch capped off by possible wins against Chicago and Boston (even if the Celtics do rest their starters) would mean a lot for New York’s confidence.
The same goes out west. The Spurs may care very little about home-court in the Finals against Chicago (San Antonio would still have it against any other team). They might rest their starters, who have all faced some sort of injury down the stretch of this season. Not every team in the West is locked in, and who rests their starters could play a big role in who finishes where. The Lakers would regain the West’s 2nd seed with a win against the Spurs. By Wednesday, the Mavericks could be playing a Hornets team already locked into the 8th seed and nothing left to play for. Playing against a team without all of their starters would be a big advantage for teams still looking to clinch a seed.
Scores from yesterday:
Orlando 95, Philadelphia 85 – The 76ers loss locks them into the 7th seed in the East.
Charlotte 105, New Jersey 103 – Meaningless, even in terms of lottery chances.
Miami 98, Atlanta 90 – Heat clinches East’s 2nd seed as Hawks rest starters in second half.
Washington 95, Boston 94 (OT) – Celtics concede 2nd seed to Miami as they rest 4 starters.
Cleveland 110, Detroit 101 – Cavaliers again move out of the NBA’s basement.
Utah 90, New Orleans 78 – Hornets now a half-game back of Memphis for 7th in the West and do not own the tie-breaker.
Milwaukee 93, Toronto 86 – Bucks have won 3 of 4 since being eliminated from playoff contention.
Dallas 98, Houston 91 (OT) – Mavericks now a half-game up on the Lakers for West’s 2nd seed.
Phoenix 135, Minnesota 127 (OT) – Timberwolves loss makes them NBA’s worst team.
Oklahoma City 120, Sacramento 112 – Thunder still in reach of the West’s 2nd and 3rd seed.
Scores from Sunday:
Chicago 102, Orlando 99 – Magic put up fight without Howard, but Bulls keep pace with Spurs for NBA’s top record.
Miami 100, Boston 77 – Heat pass Celtics for East’s 2nd seed.
Detroit 112, Charlotte 101
Toronto 99, New Jersey 92
Memphis 111, New Orleans 89 – Memphis earns tie-breaker with Hornets.
New York 110, Indiana 109 – Knicks win their 7th straight.
Dallas 115, Phoenix 90 – Mavericks blow out Suns to tie Lakers for 2nd in the West. Also remain a game ahead of Thunder.
Sacramento 104, Golden State 103 – Kings win possible final match-up between Northern California rivals.
Oklahoma City 120, L.A. Lakers 106 – Lakers stumble to their 5th straight loss and Thunder close to within a game of the defending champs.
Tuesday’s Game of the Night:
Chicago @ New York – It’ll be interesting to see if the Knicks can keep their winning streak alive against the East’s top team. The Bulls are likely to continue their pursuit of the NBA’s top record, as they’re only a game back of San Antonio, who play back to back road games against the Lakers and Suns.