Updated 2013-14 NBA Playoff Picture: Wednesday, April 2

Joe Flynn@@ChinaJoeFlynnContributor IApril 3, 2014

A whopping 13 games tipped off on Wednesday in the NBA, meaning there were a whole lot of playoff implications. With the exception of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Portland Trail Blazers and Dallas Mavericks, every team in the postseason race took to the court, many playing for their very playoff lives.

And no playoff team would be more improbable than the New York Knicks. A first-round series seemed out of the question just four weeks ago, when the Knicks were mired in 11th place, six games behind Atlanta for the eighth seed in the East. But if the postseason were to start tomorrow, New York would be facing the No. 1 seed Miami Heat while the Hawks would be watching at home.

The Western Conference bracket shifted as the No. 6 seed (Golden State), No. 7 seed (Memphis) and No. 8 seed (Phoenix) all suffered defeats.


Eastern Conference Standings
TeamWin-LossWinning PercentageGames BackConference Record
New York33-43.4342022-24

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


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

Charlotte Bobcats: 100 percent*

Atlanta Hawks: 63.6 percent  

New York Knicks: 28.3 percent

Cleveland Cavaliers: 8.1 percent

*Have yet to clinch; would take a disaster to fall out of the top eight seeds


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


If Playoffs Started Today

Miami vs. New York (Miami leads season series, 2-1)

Indiana vs. Charlotte (Indiana won season series, 2-1)

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

Chicago vs. Brooklyn (Chicago won season series, 2-1)


Western Conference Standings
TeamWin-LossWinning PercentageGames BackConference Record
San Antonio59-16.787-35-10
Oklahoma City54-19.740432-13
L.A. Clippers54-22.7115.533-13
Golden State46-29.6131326-19
New Orleans32-43.4272713-32
L.A. Lakers25-50.3333413-32

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


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

Houston Rockets: 100 percent*

Portland Trail Blazers: 100 percent*

Golden State Warriors: 100 percent*

Memphis Grizzlies: 85.4 percent

Dallas Mavericks: 69.2 percent

Phoenix Suns: 45.4 percent

*Have yet to clinch; would take a disaster to fall out of the top eight seeds


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


If Playoffs Started Today

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

Oklahoma City vs. Dallas (Dallas won season series, 2-1)

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

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


Thursday's Schedule
Oklahoma City ThunderSan Antonio Spurs8:00 p.m. ET
Los Angeles ClippersDallas Mavericks10:30 p.m. ET

Unanswered Questions 

1. Does anybody really want the No. 8 seed in the East?

The ever-enigmatic New York Knicks made short work of the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday, cruising to a 25-point lead at the half en route to a 110-81 win. Coupled with the Atlanta Hawks' 105-92 loss to the Chicago Bulls, the victory propelled New York into a virtual tie for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East.

New York has won 12 of its last 15 games, while Atlanta has lost seven of eight. 

So which team controls its own destiny? It depends on whether you believe the Hawks' DeMarre Carroll or the Knicks' Carmelo Anthony, per the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Chris Vivlamore and Sheridan Hoops' Michael Scotto:

Sorry, Melo, but the correct answer is "Atlanta." The Hawks still have one fewer loss than New York, so if both teams were to win out—as unlikely as that would be—Atlanta would claim the eighth seed. 

But the Knicks are winning games, and the Hawks aren't. If Melo and the Knicks take care of their own business, they will likely sneak into the postseason.


2. Were Wednesday's results a make-up call for Dallas?

Before Wednesday's slate of games, the NBA officially announced that referees had blown a call that impacted the Dallas Mavericks' 122-120 loss to the Golden State Warriors.

The refs ruled a blocked shot on a potential go-ahead field-goal attempt by Mavericks guard Monta Ellis with 16 seconds left in overtime, but NBA president of basketball operations Rod Thorn ruled that goaltending should have been called on Warriors center Jermaine O'Neal. That would have given Dallas a two-point lead.

How big was the blown call? According to ESPNDallas.com's Tim MacMahon, the outcome of the game affected four potential Western Conference playoff teams:

The loss dropped Dallas to ninth place in the Western Conference standings, a half-game behind the Memphis Grizzlies and Phoenix Suns. The Mavs would have been alone in seventh place, only a half-game behind sixth-place Golden State, with a win over the Warriors.

But as the basketball gods taketh away, so do they giveth. Dallas' gift came in the form of two Wednesday losses. Phoenix fell to the Clippers, and Memphis dropped its contest with the Timberwolves. 

Now the Mavericks are virtually right back where they started on Tuesday afternoon: in a three-way tie with the Suns and Grizzlies for the final two playoff spots. Each team has seven games remaining.


3. Is the basketball world still overlooking the Toronto Raptors?

Which three teams have the best record in the Eastern Conference since the beginning of January? The first two—Chicago and Brooklynare an easy guess: They often play on national TV, where announcers have swooned over their fine play over the past three months. The third team—Toronto—might come as a surprise.

It shouldn't. Not only have the Raptors been beating teams in 2014, but they have been doing it convincingly. Per NBA.com, Toronto ranks sixth in the league in net rating since Jan. 1, meaning it's been outscoring opponents by more than every team but the Spurs, Clippers, Rockets, Thunder and Heat. 

The Raptors took care of business once again on Wednesday, beating the Rockets by the score of 107-103. They finished their schedule against (supposedly superior) Western Conference teams with a 16-14 record.

The Raptors now have a 2.5-game lead over Brooklyn in the Atlantic Division. If they can hold off the Nets, which appears likely at this point, they will open the playoffs north of the border.


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