Apr 14, 2010, 10:39 AM EDT
We told you a couple days ago: The last game to tip off this NBA season, Utah at Phoenix at 10:30 Eastern tonight, will still play a big role in determining who plays whom in the first round of the NBA playoffs. What, you thought we were kidding? We would never do that to you.
To make your evening viewing complete, here is how the scenarios shake out heading into the final night of play.
The Cleveland Cavaliers are the top seed, and have been for a long time. They will face either Chicago or Toronto. Chicago has a one-game lead in the race for eight, but Toronto has the tiebreak. The Bulls are in if they beat a good Charlotte team — Larry Brown said he is playing his starters — or if the Raptors lose to New York. Toronto needs both those things to happen, but that is not far-fetched.
Orlando is your two seed, they will play Charlotte.
Atlanta is the three seed, Boston is the four seed. That means in the second round Boston gets Cleveland, a matchup they — and everyone else — wanted to avoid.
But first they have to get to the second round. And that is where it gets fun. Miami is almost locked in as the five seed, Milwaukee as the six. For Milwaukee to pass Miami, the Bucks would have to beat the Celtics tonight and the Heat would have to lose to the Nets. However, the Celtics probably would prefer to face the Andrew Bogut-less Bucks, so they may rest a whole lot of players tonight in an effort to fail. Miami has taken three of four from Atlanta this season and may prefer them to Boston. They have announced that Dwyane Wade, Udonis Haslim, and Jermaine O’Neal will all sit out tonight. Look for any Heat guy playing well to get benched.
That’s all a lot of speculation, but it will be fun to see how it unfolds and if teams are naked in their intentions.
We know the Lakers are the one seed and will face Oklahoma City in the first round.
After that, the West is still a mess. A Jackson Pollock painting.
Dallas has the inside track on the two seed. They have a one-game lead and if they beat the Spurs tonight they get the two slot. However, if the Spurs beat the Mavericks and the Jazz beat the Suns, the Jazz are your two seed and the Mavericks are number three.
If Dallas loses to the Spurs and Phoenix beats Utah, Dallas is the two seed, Phoenix the three seed, Denver the four seed and Utah falls to the five seed and loses home court advantage.
If Dallas wins and the Jazz win, Dallas is the two seed, Utah the three seed, Phoenix the four seed and Denver the five. Phoenix cannot drop below the four seed in any scenario, they will start the playoffs at home this weekend.
Yes, that means Utah could end the night as the two seed, three seed or the fifth seed. Did we mention the West is still a mess? And we’re not done yet.
Portland is most likely the six seed. If they beat the Warriors tonight they are set. If Dallas beats San Antonio Portland is sixth. But, if the Spurs win and the Trail Blazers lose, the Spurs become the six seed.
The good news is, by about 1:30 this morning on the East Coast we’ll finally know. This can’t drag out another day.
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