Updated 2013-14 NBA Playoff Picture: Sunday, April 6

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Updated 2013-14 NBA Playoff Picture: Sunday, April 6
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With no games on the slate for Monday—you read that right: stock up on canned goods and edible rocks immediately—NBA fans were forced to get their fix on Sunday, where statement games and playoff fatalities were both dealt in equal measures.

The Indiana Pacers continued their mesmerizing slide in getting manhandled at home by the Atlanta Hawks, 107-88.

That, coupled with a 102-91 loss to the Miami Heat, all but cooked the New York Knicks' playoff goose for good.

Meanwhile, the San Antonio Spurs got back on track, dispatching the Memphis Grizzlies 112-92 to re-solidify their grip on the West's No. 1 seed.

It helped that the Oklahoma City Thunder succumbed to the Phoenix Suns, who extended their lead to a full game over the aforementioned Grizz for the conference's eighth and final playoff spot.

Six days left to go before the postseason, folks! Remember to dress appropriately.

Eastern Conference Standings
Team Win-Loss Winning Percentage Games Back Conference Record
Miami 53-23 .697 - 33-14
Indiana 53-25 .679 1 36-13
Toronto 45-32 .584 8.5 29-18
Chicago 45-32 .584 8.5 33-15
Brooklyn 42-34 .553 11 24-22
Washington 40-37 .519 13.5 29-18
Charlotte 39-38 .506 14.5 26-21
Atlanta 34-42 .440 19 24-22
New York 33-45 .423 21 22-26
Cleveland 31-47 .397 22.5 19-29
Detroit 28-49 .364 25.5 22-26
Boston 23-54 .299 30.5 19-28
Orlando 22-55 .286 31.5 16-31
Philadelphia 17-60 .221 36.5 12-36
Milwaukee 14-63 .182 39.5 11-36

NBA.com

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

 

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

Atlanta Hawks: 86.3 percent  

New York Knicks: 13.1 percent

Cleveland Cavaliers: 0.6 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 and 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
Team Win-Loss Winning Percentage Games Back Conference Record
San Antonio 59-17 .776 - 35-11
Oklahoma City 55-21 .724 4.5 33-15
L.A. Clippers 55-23 .705 5.5 34-14
Houston 51-25 .671 8.5 28-18
Portland 50-28 .641 10.5 27-21
Golden State 48-29 .623 12 28-19
Dallas 47-31 .603 13.5 27-21
Phoenix 46-31 .597 14 26-21
Memphis 45-32 .84 15 26-23
Minnesota 38-38 .500 21.5 21-26
Denver 33-44 .429 27 17-30
New Orleans 32-44 .421 28 13-33
Sacramento 27-50 .351 33 14-33
L.A. Lakers 25-52 .325 35 13-34
Utah 24-53 .312 36 12-35

NBA.com

Clinched: San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder and 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*

Dallas Mavericks: 80.2 percent

Memphis Grizzlies: 76.2 percent

Phoenix Suns: 43.7 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 and Utah Jazz

 

If Playoffs Started April 6

San Antonio vs. Phoenix (San Antonio leads season series, 2-1)

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)

 

Monday's NBA Schedule
NO GAMES SCHEDULED

NBA.com

 

Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Unanswered Questions

1. Can the Rockets defense find another gear?

The Houston Rockets have surrendered 100 or more points in 11 of their last 14 games. Since March 9, the day that streak started, the Rockets are registering the 16th-most efficient defense in the league (105.0). For a team that was regularly in the top 10 in that department, that's quite the drop-off.

Losing Dwight Howard hasn't helped, obviously. Everyone knew Houston would have to pair its high-octane offense with a serviceable—if unspectacular—showing at the other end if it had any hope of coming out of the Western Conference.

For a while, the Rockets were able to do just that. But as Bleacher Report's Dan Favale outlined in terrific detail, to get anywhere near the NBA mountaintop, they'll need D12 in the fray:

If nothing else, the Rockets' recent and brief struggles are a reminder of why Howard was brought to Houston in the first place. They weren't good enough without him. Asik can be the starting center on a contending team, just not the Rockets.

Coach Kevin McHale's crew needs a star jumping center. Someone who can offset perimeter defensive struggles by provocatively patrolling the paint and do more than score off putbacks on the offensive end. They have that in Howard.

NBA contention is so often a matter of timing. That is, can your team get hot in the right areas at the right time? Houston's offense can run with the best of them. But to pull off a playoff upset, they'll need to be firing on all cylinders over where, as the old cliche goes, championships are truly won.

David Liam Kyle/Getty Images

2. How fragile is the situation in Indiana?

Frank Vogel was so disgusted by his Pacers' lackluster start in Sunday's loss to the Hawks, he pulled all five starters halfway through the first quarter.

In fact, Roy Hibbert looked so disinterested, Vogel didn't even bother putting him back in the game. Afterward, Indy's coach keyed a group of assembled reporters into his reasoning:

He looks worn down. He's a 7-foot-2 player who has played every game this year, which is very rare. He looks to me to be worn down. He's given good effort but he looks to me to be worn down.

Some, including this reporter, have been on Vogel's case for a while regarding his seeming disregard for the concept of minutes management. At this point, chasing down Miami to regain the No. 1 seed just doesn't seem worth the added mileage—and potential increased rancor. Rest, on the other hand, could do wonders for a weary team desperately in need of some grounding.

Jason Getz

3. Should the West Brass be scared of Phoenix?

In six games against the Thunder and Spurs, the Phoenix Suns are 3-3. That might not be enough to instill any serious fear in the West's top two teams, but the way the Suns have refused to go quietly into that good postseason night, perhaps it should.

Since March 14, the day Phoenix commenced its most recent surge (10 wins in 13 games), the Suns have registered the league's sixth-best offensive efficiency (109.3), its seventh-best defensive efficiency (102.4) and its fourth-best net rating (7.3), per NBA.com (stats subscription required).

If that's not the hallmark of a great team, what is?

The rest of the season counts for something, of course. Still, there's little doubt that Phoenix—picked by so many to hit the skids and stay there—has the DNA to make any first-round opponent, no matter how steely and seasoned, severely uncomfortable.

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