Updated 2013-14 NBA Playoff Picture: Sunday, March 30

Jim Cavan@@JPCavanContributor IMarch 31, 2014

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Eastern Conference Standings
TeamWin-LossWinning PercentageGames BackConference Record
New York31-43.4192121-24

As has been the case for much of the past few weeks, movement in the NBA playoff picture was relegated almost exclusively to the bottom of each conference's standings Sunday night.

With both the Memphis Grizzlies and Phoenix Suns getting upended on the road (the former with a 105-98 defeat by the Portland Trail Blazers, the latter in a 115-99 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers), the Western Conference playoff picture got even murkier.

Meanwhile in the East, the New York Knicks were able to make up a half-game worth of ground on the Atlanta Hawks by dispatching the reeling Golden State Warriors, 89-84.

Let's take a look at how the playoff picture stacks up after Sunday's action, shall we? We shall.

Eric Gay

Clinched: Indiana Pacers, Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls, Toronto Raptors, Brooklyn Nets, Washington Wizards.

Still Fighting for Postseason Berth: (according to Hollinger's 2013-14 Playoff Odds)

Charlotte Bobcats:  99.8 percent

Atlanta Hawks: 88.8 percent  

New York Knicks: 7.0 percent

Cleveland Cavaliers: 4.3 percent

Eliminated from Contention: Detroit Pistons, Boston Celtics, Orlando Magic, Philadelphia 76ers, Milwaukee Bucks.

If Playoffs Started Today

Indiana vs. Atlanta (Indiana leads season series 2-1)

Miami vs. Charlotte (Miami won season series 4-0)

Toronto vs. Washington (Toronto won season series 3-1)

Chicago vs. Brooklyn (Chicago leads season series 2-1)

Western Conference Standings
TeamWin-LossWinning PercentageGames BackConference Record
San Antonio57-16.781-34-10
Oklahoma City54-19.740331-13
L.A. Clippers52-22.7035.531-13
Golden State45-28.6161225-18
New Orleans32-41.4382513-30
L.A. Lakers25-48.3423213-30
Monday's Schedule
Charlotte BobcatsWashington Wizards7 p.m. ET
Indiana PacersSan Antonio Spurs7 p.m. ET
Atlanta HawksPhiladelphia 76ers7:30 p.m. ET
Detroit PistonsMilwaukee Bucks7:30 p.m. ET
Miami HeatToronto Raptors7:30 p.m. ET
Chicago BullsBoston Celtics8 p.m. ET
Minnesota TimberwolvesLos Angeles Clippers8 p.m. ET
New Orleans PelicansSacramento Kings8 p.m. ET
Denver NuggetsMemphis Grizzlies9 p.m. ET
Utah JazzNew York Knicks9 p.m. ET

Clinched: San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder, L.A. Clippers, Houston Rockets.

Still Fighting for Postseason Berth: (according to Hollinger's 2013-14 Playoff Odds)

Portland Trail Blazers: 99.7 percent

Golden State Warriors: 99.6 percent

Memphis Grizzlies: 74.7 percent

Dallas Mavericks: 67.9 percent

Phoenix Suns: 58.0 percent

Eliminated from Contention: Minnesota Timberwolves, Denver Nuggets, New Orleans Pelicans, Sacramento Kings, L.A. Lakers, Utah Jazz.

If Playoffs Started Today

San Antonio vs. Dallas (San Antonio leads season series 3-0)

Oklahoma City vs. Phoenix (season series tied 1-1)

L.A. Clippers vs. Golden State (season series tied 2-2)

Houston vs. Portland (Houston won season series 3-1)

Mar 30, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) looks on against the Golden State Warriors in the fourth quarter at Oracle Arena. The Knicks won 89-84. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Unanswered Questions

1. Are the Pacers' Problems Beyond Repair?

For the fifth time in their last six games, the Pacers failed to scale the 90-point mark, falling to the long since lottery-bound Cleveland Cavaliers, 90-76.

After showing a palpable sign of life in defeating the Heat 84-83 last Wednesday, Indiana has dropped its last two en route to giving up yet another game to top-seeded Miami in the conference standings.

It's gut-check time for Frank Vogel, who at this point has to be at least partly to blame for his team's recent woes. He's not alone, of course (from Bleacher Report's Grant Hughes, in which David West opines that the Pacers may have "hit rock bottom"):

As is the case with any slide like this, there's no singular cause. The absence of Danny Granger has turned out to be a bigger problem than anticipated, and it's possible Indiana simply doesn't have the locker room chemistry it once did. Plus Roy Hibbert and George have come back to Earth on offense, and the bench has failed to sustain its early-season pace.

The good news that is also terrible news? The Pacers will have a chance to redeem themselves in fine fashion when the blazing-hot San Antonio Spurs—winners of 17 straight and looking every bit the contender of years past—come to town Monday night.

Indy's defense will surely be tested. But it's in its offense, ranked 29th in the league since the beginning of March, per NBA.com (subscription only), that the Pacers must find their second wind.

2. Can the Knicks Really Pull This Thing Off?

As noted above, Hollinger puts the Knicks' odds of making the playoff nut at a scant 7 percent. That might seem impossible given the contrasting trajectories of the two teams involved, but this is a man of science we're talking about here. The numbers seldom lie.

Basically, it all boils down to strength of schedule. After tomorrow's tilt with the Jazz, New York's last six opponents are all playoff-bound (as of this printing). The Hawks, meanwhile, have five such dates on the docket, but with more games left to play (10).

Question is, how badly does Atlanta really want to make the playoffs? The Hawks have their first-round draft pick. The Knicks? Not so much.

Hollinger doesn't factor that into the equation, albeit for good reason. But it'll be interesting to see what approach Atlanta takes down the stretch.

J.R. Smith certainly seems to grasp the gravity of this very delicate situation.

3. When Will the West's True No. 8 Seed Emerge?

Look, no one wants to play the Spurs right now. But, you know, someone has to.

Not long after the Grizzlies fell in Portland, Phoenix laid down a stinker in Tinseltown but still managed to hold strong to the No. 7 seed, despite being in a statistical dead heat with the Mavericks.

Memphis might be the more alarming case, however: They've now given up 100 or more points in two straight games, after surrendering the century mark only once in the 11 games prior.

Adding to the intrigue, the Grizzlies' final two games will be againstguess whothe Suns and Mavericks.

Strap on your big-people pants, ladies and gentlemen, because it's about to get wild in this here West.


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