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

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Updated 2013-14 NBA Playoff Picture: Wednesday, April 2
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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
Team Win-Loss Winning Percentage Games Back Conference Record
Miami 52-22 .703 - 32-14
Indiana 53-23 .697 - 36-11
Toronto 43-32 .573 9.5 27-18
Chicago 43-32 .573 9.5 31-15
Brooklyn 40-34 .541 12.0 22-22
Washington 39-36 .520 13.5 28-17
Charlotte 37-38 .493 15.5 24-21
New York 33-43 .434 20 22-24
Atlanta 32-42 .432 20 22-22
Cleveland 31-45 .408 22 19-27
Detroit 27-48 .360 25.5 21-25
Boston 23-52 .307 29.5 19-26
Orlando 21-54 .280 31.5 16-30
Philadelphia 16-59 .213 36.5 11-35
Milwaukee 14-61 .187 38.5 11-34

NBA.com

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
Team Win-Loss Winning Percentage Games Back Conference Record
San Antonio 59-16 .787 - 35-10
Oklahoma City 54-19 .740 4 32-13
L.A. Clippers 54-22 .711 5.5 33-13
Houston 49-25 .662 9.5 26-18
Portland 49-27 .645 10.5 26-20
Golden State 46-29 .613 13 26-19
Dallas 44-31 .587 15 24-21
Memphis 44-31 .587 15 25-22
Phoenix 44-31 .587 15 24-21
Minnesota 37-37 .500 21.5 21-26
Denver 33-42 .440 26 17-28
New Orleans 32-43 .427 27 13-32
Sacramento 27-48 .360 32 14-31
L.A. Lakers 25-50 .333 34 13-32
Utah 23-52 .307 36 11-34

NBA.com

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
Home Away Time
Oklahoma City Thunder San Antonio Spurs 8:00 p.m. ET
Los Angeles Clippers Dallas Mavericks 10:30 p.m. ET

NBA.com

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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