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

Joe Flynn@@ChinaJoeFlynnContributor IApril 6, 2014

Cleveland Cavaliers' Jarrett Jack, right, fouls Charlotte Bobcats' Chris Douglas-Roberts (55) on a drive to the basket in the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game on Saturday, April 5, 2014, in Cleveland. The Bobcats won 96-94 in overtime. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)
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
TeamWin-LossWinning PercentageGames BackConference Record
New York33-44.4292022-25

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 Antonio59-17.776-35-11
Oklahoma City55-20.7333.533-14
L.A. Clippers54-23.7015.533-14
Golden State47-29.6181227-19
New Orleans32-44.4212713-33
L.A. Lakers25-51.3293413-33

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
Miami HeatNew York Knicks1 p.m. ET
Los Angeles ClippersLos Angeles Lakers3:30 p.m. ET
Sacramento KingsDallas Mavericks6 p.m. ET
Indiana PacersAtlanta Hawks6 p.m. ET
Houston RocketsDenver Nuggets7 p.m. ET
San Antonio SpursMemphis Grizzlies7 p.m. ET
Golden State WarriorsUtah Jazz9 p.m. ET
Phoenix SunsOklahoma City Thunder9 p.m. ET
Portland Trail BlazersNew Orleans Pelicans9 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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