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Playoff shakeout: What the chase looks like with two weeks left

Apr 12, 2012, 1:29 PM EDT

Derrick Rose LeBron James Getty Images

Two weeks from today — April 26 — is the final day of the regular season. It came up on us all sneaky fast. You can thank the lockout for that, too.

Let’s take a look at how the playoff races and seedings shake out with two weeks left:

Eastern Conference

Chicago and Miami will finish 1-2, and the Bulls have a three-game lead. The only way Miami catches Chicago is to sweep the two times these to teams play in the next two weeks (Thursday and April 19), then catch a break. That’s not all going to happen, but it’s possible.

Boston, Atlanta and Orlando are tied at 34-24 for the 4, 5 and 6 seeds (the Pacers are the 3 seed and pretty much are locked in unless they falter). With the way the Magic are struggling (and with Dwight Howard not right) if feels like they will fall to six, which means what the Celtics and Hawks are really playing for these next couple weeks is home court in their first-round matchup.

With New York’s win over Milwaukee on Wednesday, it is going to be very difficult for the Bucks to make the playoffs. They are two games back of the Knicks, three back of the 76ers (and Philly has more road games but against lesser teams the rest of the way). What this means is the Sixers and Knicks are playing to see who gets the Heat and who gets the Bulls in the first round. That is basically a game nobody wins. The Bucks need someone to totally fall apart to make the playoffs at this point.

Western Conference

At the top of the West, Oklahoma City is one game up on San Antonio for the top seed. Getting that spot matters a lot more to the Thunder than it does the Spurs — Oklahoma City is a younger team and may have the best home court advantage in the league. The Spurs are the definition of unflappable veterans and they don’t care if the game is at home, on the road or played outdoors on asphalt with a chain net, they will be the same team.

The Lakers and Clippers are battling for the Pacific Division crown and the No. 3 seed — but what they are really fighting for is the right to avoid the Grizzlies in the first round. Right now the Lakers are the No. 3 seed, the Clippers the 4 (1.5 games back of the Lakers, plus the Lakers have the tiebreaker), then the Grizzlies are the No. 5 seed and just half a game back of the Clippers. The Clippers got a big win at Oklahoma City and they need more efforts like that because not only do they not want Memphis, they really don’t want Memphis to have the home court in that series.

At the bottom Dallas, Denver and Houston are tied at 32-26 and are the 6,7 and 8 seeds — with Utah now 1.5 games back of all of them. The Suns’ loss Wednesday hurt, and they are now two back of all those teams. You get the feeling one of those teams in right now will slip and get caught by Utah or Phoenix. If I had to guess, it would be the Nuggets, as they are erratic — the Mavs better with their backs against the wall, and the Rockets give it everything they have every night. But basically there are five teams within two games of each other and every game matters a lot to all these teams the rest of the way.

  1. b7p19 - Apr 12, 2012 at 3:54 PM

    The Sixers are only 3 back of Boston with a much easier schedule. I’d think that would at least merit a mention, no? Also, won’t the Celtics (or Sixers) automatically get the 4 seed for winning their division? Am I wrong about that?

    • b7p19 - Apr 12, 2012 at 3:55 PM

      I hope I’m the one thats wrong, because you should probably know the seeding system…

      • pudgalvin - Apr 12, 2012 at 8:42 PM

        Don’t worry, you are wrong.

  2. butterednuts86 - Apr 12, 2012 at 5:34 PM

    Ok so let me get this right… The Lakers DOMINATION of the Spurs, IN SAN ANTONIO mind you, last night was “nothing to read into” as you put it in the recaps of last night… Yet the clippers win in okc was “A BIG WIN”… Where is your logic outside of just hating the Lakers??????

    • pudgalvin - Apr 12, 2012 at 8:33 PM

      You know Kurt covered the Lakers for like 8 years, right? I think most people develop a bit of a soft spot covering a team that long, though one might also become overly critical too I suppose.

  3. david0303 - Apr 12, 2012 at 7:27 PM

    In the east boston isnt fighting with atlanta or orlando they just need to hold off philly for the 4th spot. because they are division winners they are guarenteed a home game which means they cant fall below 4th place. is there something im missing kurt? did they change the rules in the lockout because i dont have any knowlege of that or is it just another big mistake on your part?

    • pudgalvin - Apr 12, 2012 at 8:40 PM

      Homecourt goes to the team with the better record. The mistake is yours.

      • david0303 - Apr 12, 2012 at 8:46 PM

        Every division winner gets homecourt in the first round. so technically the team with the worse record can be the home team. the mistake is yours

      • david0303 - Apr 12, 2012 at 8:55 PM

        in the 2008 nba playoffs the jazz were 54-28 with the 4th seed and got homecourt against the rockets who were 55-27 with the 5th seed even though they were a game ahead of the jazz. check ur facts before u start looking like an idiot responding to everyone.

      • pudgalvin - Apr 12, 2012 at 9:40 PM

        “Homecourt advantage for any series is determined by record, not seed. So, it’s possible that the 5 seed could have homecourt advantage over the 4, or that the 6 seed could have homecourt advantage over the 3.”

        From The Rockets had homecourt in that idiot. Google’s a hell of a thing. Who’s the idiot?

      • pudgalvin - Apr 12, 2012 at 9:41 PM

        Sorry, the Rockets had homecourt in that series.

      • pudgalvin - Apr 12, 2012 at 9:45 PM

        One more link for you to check out, just in case you don’t believe me.

      • pudgalvin - Apr 12, 2012 at 11:18 PM

        I’m patiently awaiting your apology David.

  4. mrheavychevy - Apr 12, 2012 at 10:07 PM

    Who cares about the grizzlies?

    • rushbacker - Apr 13, 2012 at 1:05 AM

      I take it you didn’t watch the playoffs last year?

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