Updated 2013-14 NBA Playoff Picture: Saturday, April 5

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Updated 2013-14 NBA Playoff Picture: Saturday, April 5
Mark Duncan

So sorry, West Coast fansSaturday in the NBA was all about the East. Only one Western Conference team was in action, and that was the already-eliminated Minnesota Timberwolves.

There was a great deal of action in the Eastern Conference playoff bracket, however, as the Chicago Bulls, Toronto Raptors, Brooklyn Nets, Washington Wizards and Charlotte Bobcats all played.

Surprisingly, the one matchup of playoff probables (Chicago-Washington) was the lone dud of the evening, as the Bulls dismantled the Wizards. 

Meanwhile, Brooklyn and Toronto both struggled to put away the two weakest teams in the league, the Philadelphia 76ers and Milwaukee Bucks.

But the story of the night was the Charlotte Bobcats, who overcame the pesky Cleveland Cavaliers in an overtime thriller to clinch just the second playoff berth in franchise history.

Eastern Conference Standings
Team Win-Loss Winning Percentage Games Back Conference Record
Miami 52-23 .693 - 32-14
Indiana 53-24 .688 - 36-12
Toronto 45-32 .584 8 29-18
Chicago 45-32 .584 8 33-15
Brooklyn 42-34 .553 10.5 24-22
Washington 40-37 .519 13 29-18
Charlotte 39-38 .506 14 26-21
Atlanta 33-42 .440 19 23-22
New York 33-44 .429 20 22-25
Cleveland 31-47 .397 22.5 19-29
Detroit 27-49 .364 25 22-26
Boston 23-54 .299 30 19-28
Orlando 22-55 .286 31 16-31
Philadelphia 17-60 .221 36 12-36
Milwaukee 14-63 .182 39 11-36


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

Still Fighting for Postseason Berth, per Hollinger's 2013-14 Playoff Odds

Atlanta Hawks: 84.8 percent  

New York Knicks: 13.5 percent

Cleveland Cavaliers: 2.1 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 April 6

Miami vs. Atlanta (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
San Antonio 59-17 .776 - 35-11
Oklahoma City 55-20 .733 3.5 33-14
L.A. Clippers 54-23 .701 5.5 33-14
Houston 50-25 .667 8.5 27-18
Portland 49-28 .636 10.5 26-21
Golden State 47-29 .618 12 27-19
Dallas 46-31 .597 13.5 26-21
Memphis 45-31 .592 14 26-22
Phoenix 45-31 .592 14 25-21
Minnesota 38-38 .500 21 21-26
Denver 33-43 .434 26 17-29
New Orleans 32-44 .421 27 13-33
Sacramento 27-49 .355 32 14-32
L.A. Lakers 25-51 .329 34 13-33
Utah 24-52 .316 35 12-34


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

Still Fighting for Postseason Berth, per 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 April 6

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)

Sunday's NBA Schedule
Home Away Time
Miami Heat New York Knicks 1 p.m. ET
Los Angeles Clippers Los Angeles Lakers 3:30 p.m. ET
Sacramento Kings Dallas Mavericks 6 p.m. ET
Indiana Pacers Atlanta Hawks 6 p.m. ET
Houston Rockets Denver Nuggets 7 p.m. ET
San Antonio Spurs Memphis Grizzlies 7 p.m. ET
Golden State Warriors Utah Jazz 9 p.m. ET
Phoenix Suns Oklahoma City Thunder 9 p.m. ET
Portland Trail Blazers New Orleans Pelicans 9 p.m. ET


Unanswered Questions

1. How Long Can the Raptors Hold Out Without Kyle Lowry?

The Toronto Raptors were once again without the services of point guard Kyle Lowry and forward Amir Johnson for Saturday's game against the Milwaukee Bucks, according to Raptors beat writer Stephen Brotherston:

While the short-handed Raptors managed to pull off an impressive upset of the Indiana Pacers on Friday, they struggled with Milwaukee, the worst team in the league, just 24 hours later. The Bucks actually carried a one-point lead into the fourth quarter, but Toronto rallied for a 102-98 win.

The loss would have been devastating for the Raptors, as it would have dropped them a game behind the Chicago Bulls. Toronto would be much better off playing the No. 6 seed in the first round than the likely No. 5, the Brooklyn Nets.

Toronto has an easy upcoming schedule, with its next game coming on Wednesday against the lowly Philadelphia 76ers. But Lowry is its best player, and it needs him back as soon as possible.

2. Can the Charlotte Bobcats Get the Sixth Seed?

The Charlotte Bobcats are officially in the playoffs! Let's all rejoice with big man Bismack Biyombo!

Not only did Charlotte clinch a playoff berth, but it also pulled itself over the .500 mark with a tense, 96-94 overtime win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. Center Al Jefferson scored seven of his team-high 24 points in the extra frame.

As B/R's Jim Cavan pointed out, this moment is the culmination of an amazing turnaround for this franchise:

Two years ago, the Bobcats finished the lockout-shortened 2011-12 campaign with a record of 7-59—adjusted for percentage (.106), the worst performance by an NBA team in over 60 years, according to Basketball-Reference.com.

Now, in Al Jefferson, Kemba Walker, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and first-year coach Steve Clifford, Charlotte has the look and feel of a feisty up-and-comer in the making.

But the Bobcats might not be done surprising. They are now just one game behind the Washington Wizards for the No. 6 seed in the East. If they win next Wednesday's game in D.C., they will jump over the Wizards by virtue of clinching the season series (Charlotte currently holds a 2-1 edge).

3. Will Kevin Garnett Be Healthy Enough to Help the Nets?

The Brooklyn Nets fended off a late charge to beat the lowly 76ers on Saturday, 105-101. But the story of the night for Brooklyn was the return of big man Kevin Garnett, who missed 19 games with back trouble.

Garnett played 13 minutes, 12 seconds in his return, scoring 10 points and adding four rebounds and one blocked shot. He couldn't have looked much better, according to the New York Post's Tim Bontemps:

The trick now for Brooklyn is managing playing time for the 37-year-old big man, making sure to give him enough minutes to build back his stamina while not risking further injury. This is the delicate dance that comes with relying on a big who ranks fifth all time in total minutes played, per Basketball-Reference.com.

If Garnett can stay healthy, however, it will prove worth the hassle. He could be a real difference-maker for Brooklyn come playoff time.

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