Updated 2013-14 NBA Playoff Picture: Tuesday, April 15

Jim CavanContributor IApril 16, 2014

AP Images

Happy Tax Day! What a ridiculous thing to say!

Appropriately, the NBA followed sad suit on America's least favorite day by featuring only two games, neither of which really mattered in the grand scheme of things—until they somehow did.

By "things," of course, we mean the playoffs. Those are actually pretty important.

In Game 1 of TNT's doubleheader, the New York Knicks salvaged meaningless solace by bludgeoning the Brooklyn Nets 109-98. (It wasn't really that close.)

In the nightcap, the Los Angeles Clippers discarded the Denver Nuggets with relative ease, 117-105.

Sadly, neither game was without its sordid silver lining: The Knicks found out superstar forward Carmelo Anthony has sustained a partial tear of his right labrum—"shoulder meat," for those who never watched Doogie Howser, M.D.—while the Clips will play Wednesday night's finale sans the services of Blake Griffin, who picked up his 16th technical foul of the season.

Before we discuss the respective ramifications, let's look at some charts.

No, I don't know if you have rickets. These aren't medical charts, and I'm not a doctor. 

 

Eastern Conference Standings
TeamWin-LossWinning PercentageGames BackConference Record
Indiana55-26.679-37-14
Miami54-27.667134-17
Toronto48-33.593732-19
Chicago48-33.593735-16
Brooklyn44-37.5431126-25
Washington43-38.5311232-19
Charlotte42-39.5191329-22
Atlanta37-44.4571827-24
New York36-45.4441925-26
Cleveland32-49.3952320-31
Detroit29-52.3582623-29
Boston25-56.3093021-30
Orlando23-58.2843217-34
Philadelphia18-63.2223713-38
Milwaukee15-66.1854012-39
Credit: NBA.com

 

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

Eliminated from Contention: New York Knicks, Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons, Boston Celtics, Orlando Magic, Philadelphia 76ers and Milwaukee Bucks

 

If Playoffs Started April 16

Indiana vs. Atlanta (series tied, 2-2)

Miami vs. Charlotte (Miami won, 4-0)

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

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

 

Western Conference Standings
TeamWin-LossWinning PercentageGames BackConference Record
San Antonio62-19.765-38-13
Oklahoma City58-23.716436-16
L.A. Clippers57-24.704536-15
Houston54-27.667831-20
Portland53-28.655930-21
Golden State50-31.6171230-21
Dallas49-32.6051329-22
Memphis49-32.6051328-23
Phoenix47-34.5801527-24
Minnesota40-41.4942223-28
Denver36-45.4442620-31
New Orleans33-48.4072914-37
Sacramento28-53.3463415-36
L.A. Lakers26-55.3213614-37
Utah24-56.3003812-39
Credit: NBA.com

 

Clinched: San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder, L.A. Clippers, Houston Rockets, Portland Trail Blazers, Golden State Warriors, Dallas Mavericks and Memphis Grizzlies

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

 

If Playoffs Started April 16

San Antonio vs. Memphis (San Antonio won, 4-0)

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

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

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

 

Wednesday's NBA Schedule
HomeAwayTime
CharlotteChicago7 p.m. ET
OrlandoIndiana7 p.m. ET
MemphisDallas8 p.m. ET
MilwaukeeAtlanta8 p.m. ET
MinnesotaUtah8 p.m. ET
New OrleansHouston8 p.m. ET
Oklahoma CityDetroit8 p.m. ET
San AntonioL.A. Lakers8 p.m. ET
BostonWashington8 p.m. ET
ClevelandBrooklyn8 p.m. ET
MiamiPhiladelphia8 p.m. ET
New YorkToronto8 p.m. ET
PortlandL.A. Clippers10:30 p.m. ET
SacramentoPhoenix10:30 p.m. ET
DenverGolden State10:30 p.m. ET
Credit: NBA.com

Danny Moloshok

 

Unanswered Questions

1. Will Blake's T come back to haunt the Clips?

You can read all about Blake's spectacularly stupid and totally unnecessary tech by clicking here. The long and short of it: He clobbered Timofey Mozgov in the face like an hour after a whistle was blown and now has to sit out Wednesday's game with the Portland Trail Blazers because of it.

Who cares? L.A. certainly should: If the Oklahoma City Thunder should somehow lose to the Detroit Pistons (it's snowing in New York as I write this, people—anything's possible) and the Clips fall short to Portland, Doc Rivers and crew will have blown their chance to sneak into the No. 2 slot.

That means no home-court advantage should the Clips face the Thunder in Round 2.

Think Blake wishes he had that one back?

If the Thunder win tomorrow, it doesn't matter. Time is a flat circle and stuff.

Frank Franklin II

 

2. Should Brooklyn have cared more about the Knicks game?

The Nets looked like a hot garbage sandwich Tuesday night. Minus Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks got contributions from all over the place (Cole Aldrich!) en route to a fine moral victory—the team's second straight since being officially bounced from the playoff race on Saturday.

Here was Jason Kidd's reaction after the game, courtesy of the New York Post's Tim Bontemps:

On the one hand, Kidd comes off sounding like a teenager who just stumbled on his older brother's copy of Nietzsche's collected works ("college, dirt-farming—doesn't matter"). On the other hand, it behooves Kidd to instill in his charges the idea that good basketball should be enough to beat whomever they play.

Problem is, this wasn't good basketball. At all. And if your message is going to be, "We're ready to play anyone, anywhere," then you should prepare your team accordingly.

Here's Mr. Bontemps again, this time on the folly of Brooklyn's nonchalance:

So, yeah. Be careful what you wish for. Or play poorly for. Something.

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 9: Chris Paul #3 of the Los Angeles Clippers and Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder greet each other after their game at Staples Center on April 9, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknow
Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

 

3. What are the playoff matchups going to be?

We've thus saved our most basic, fundamental question for last.

Some series are already set in stone, of course. But plenty of seeds have yet to be decided. Which makes the last day of the regular season—all 15 games of it—exceptionally exciting.

You'll be quizzed on this
TeamCurrent SeedPotential Seed
Toronto34
Chicago43
Brooklyn56
Washington65
Charlotte76
Oklahoma City23
L.A. Clippers32
Dallas78
Memphis87
Credit: NBA.com

Short of outwardly erring on the side of rest, playoff-bound coaches are typically mum when it comes to how they approach the last few games. And without knowing what every other coach's strategy will be in your immediate sphere of influence, there's only one surefire conclusion to be drawn: Play your best basketball.

That might sound obvious, but it wasn't for the Nets. This isn't to say a first-round defeat should send us scouring the Internet for quotes and tweets intimating a laissez-faire approach down the stretch, pointing to it as the time where everything went wrong. That's silly.

At the same time, it would be nice to get some genuinely competitive games on the regular season's curtain call—even between contenders and tankers.

Come Thursday, what began as a season surging with playoff anticipation will find its formal, final road map. However the seedings play out, 2014 promises a postseason rife with thrills and ripe for the jaw drop.