Tag:playoff seeding
Posted on: April 13, 2011 11:48 pm
Edited on: April 14, 2011 2:28 am
 

2011 NBA Playoff Matchups Set Wednesday

Final playoff positioning following Wednesday night's games. 
Posted by Matt Moore




All playoff matchups are set following Wednesday night's games. We've got our 16 teams seeded.
Eastern Conference:

The East is locked. For more analysis on the East, check out our discussion from Tuesday

1 Chicago vs. 8 Indiana
2 Miami vs. 7 Philadelphia
3 Boston vs. 6 New York
4 Orlando vs. 5 Atlanta


Western Conference

1 San Antonio vs. 8 Memphis
2 Los Angeles Lakers vs. 7 New Orleans
3 Dallas vs. 6 Portland
4 Oklahoma City vs. 5 Denver

The Mavericks' win over the Hornets locked Oklahoma City into the 4 seed, they'll face Denver. A Lakers win over Sacramento gets them the 2. The Hornets loss doesn't really matter, since it all came down to Memphis. Memphis t anked against the Clippers to get to the 8 spot. Memphis to the 8. The Hornets wind up 7th. 

Meanwhile, the Spurs' tank squad lost to Phoenix . Chicago finishes with the best overall record and homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs, including the Finals should they advance that far. Again, something that could come back to bite a tanking team. 

Some quick thoughts, as our series previews start tomorrow: 

Grizzlies-Spurs: Memphis may have made a brilliant manuever or doomed themselves. Manu Ginobili was injured Wednesday night, and if he's out, the Grizzlies might push the Spurs a bit. But they also ended the season in pathetic fashion, even for a tanking team. If that carries over, this could be over quickly. 

Hornets-Lakers: This is going to be short, violent, and brutal. I'll let you figure out how. Worst matchup for the underdog. 

Blazers-Mavericks: Portland fans wanted this matchup. We'll see if it works out for them. There are some good things here for Portland. If Dallas doesn't hit another gear, they could get rolled in the first round. Again. 

Nuggets-Thunder: This does not look like a great matchup on the surface for Denver. They'll have to get together and play the series of their lives, but against an inexperienced Thunder team, there's some possibility here. 

Posted on: April 13, 2011 9:50 am
Edited on: April 13, 2011 6:23 pm
 

Your Wednesday Morning NBA playoff scenarios

Updated playoff positioning following Tuesday night's games. 
Posted by Matt Moore




We've got 16 teams, and a lot of them are locked in place. Here's where we stand in terms of playoff positioning going into Tuesday night's games.
Eastern Conference:

The East is locked. For more analysis on the East, check out our discussion from Tuesday

1 Chicago vs. 8 Indiana
2 Miami vs. 7 Philadelphia
3 Boston vs. 6 New York
4 Orlando vs. 5 Atlanta


Western Conference

1 San Antonio vs. 8 Memphis/New Orleans
2 Dallas/Los Angeles Lakers vs. 7 Memphis/New Orleans
3 Dallas/Los Angeles Lakers/OKC vs. 6 Portland
4 Dallas/Oklahoma City vs. 5 Denver

What a mess. Though, it is less of a mess than it was yesterday. Memphis pulled Zach Randolph and Tony Allen vs. the Blazers, surrendering the sixth seed, presumably to attempt to avoid Los Angeles. It's thought that Memphis will also rest some combination of starters Wednesday night vs. the Clippers. Portland's win locks them into the sixth seed. 

The Lakers' win over "San Antonio" (I wouldn't really call that team that played the Spurs, would you?) means that Oklahoma City cannot finish second, and the Lakers cannot finish fourth. 

Before we get into contingencies for Wednesday night's results, just to review: San Antonio is locked as the 1 seed, Denver is locked as the fifth seed, and Portland is locked as the sixth seed. Those teams aren't going anywhere. 

Now, here's how Wednesday night's games shake out. 

If the Lakers beat the Kings, the Hornets beat the Mavs, and Bucks beat Thunder: The Lakers. gets the 2 seed with a one-game advantage over the Mavs, the Hornets get the 7 seed by one-game advantage/tiebreaker over Memphis, regardless of the outcome of Grizzlies-Clippers. Mavericks get the 3 seed and face the Blazers. Lakers as a 2 seed face Hornets as a 7. Grizzlies lands in the 8 and faces 1 Spurs, while the Thunder land in the 4 and face 5 Denver. 

If the Lakers beat the Kings, the Mavs beat the Hornets, and the Grizzlies beat the Clippers: The Lakers still gets the 2 seed by virtue of tie breaker over the Mavericks, who land as the 3 seed, regardless of the outcome of Bucks-Thunder, also by tiebreaker. Grizzlies get the 7 seed and will face the Lakers, Hornets fall to 8 and will face Spurs. Thunder wind up in the 4 and face 5 Nuggets. The Mavericks face the Blazers.

If the Lakers beat the Kings, the Mavs beat the Hornets, and the Grizzlies beat the Clippers: Lakers get 2 seed by tiebreaker, Mavericks land in 3 seed, Thunder get 4 and Grizzlies wind up 7. 1 Spurs face 8 Hornets, 2 Lakers play 7 Grizzlies, 3 Mavericks play 6 Blazers, and 4 Thunder play 5 Nuggets.

If the Kings beat the Lakers, the Hornets beat the Mavs, and Bucks beat Thunder: The Lakers keep the 2 seed by virtue of tiebreaker over the Mavs, the Mavericks still get the 3, and the Thunder wind up in the 4. The Hornets earn the 7 seed, while the Grizzlies fall to 8.  Spurs play Grizzlies, Lakers play Hornets, Mavericks play Blazers, and Thunder face the Nuggets. 

If the Kings beat the Lakers, the Mavericks beat the Hornets, and the Grizzlies beat the Clippers: The Mavericks slide up into the 2, the Lakers down to the 3, the Thunder into the 4, Hornets drop to 8 while Grizzlies notch themselves at 7. 1 Spurs play 8 Hornets, 2 Mavericks play 7 Grizzlies, 3 Lakers play 6 Blazers, 4 Thunder play 5 Nuggets. 

If the Kings beat the Lakers, the Mavericks beat the Hornets, and the Clippers beat the Grizzlies: The Mavericks slide up into the 2, the Lakers down to the 3, the Thunder are locked into the 4. New Orleans maintains the 7 with tiebreaker over Memphis, who drops to 8. 1 Spurs play 8 Grizzlies, 2 Mavericks play 7 Hornets, 3 Lakers play 6 Blazers, and 4 thunder play 5 Nuggets.

If the the Hornets defeat Mavericks, and the Thunder defeat Bucks:  This drops L.A., Dallas, and Oklahoma City into a three-way tie. Lakers win 2 seed regardless of their game vs. Kings by virtue of tiebreaker/ one game advantage, Thunder move into the 3, and Dallas winds up 4th. Hornets win assures them 7. 1 Spurs play 8 Grizzlies (a Hornets win makes their game irrelevant... well, more irrelevant), 2 Lakers play 7 Hornets, 3 Thunder play 6 Blazers, 4 Mavericks play 5 Nuggets. 

In short: 
Lakers win and they get the 2.

Mavericks win and Lakers lose, Mavs get the 2.

Thunder win and Mavericks lose, Thunder get the 3. 

Hornets win, they get the 7.

Grizzlies win and Hornets lose, Grizzlies get the 7. 

Complicated enough for you? Last game of the season, and still so much to decide.
Posted on: April 12, 2011 3:35 am
Edited on: April 13, 2011 8:54 am
 

Your Tuesday morning NBA playoff scenarios

Updated playoff positioning following Monday night's games. 
Posted by Matt Moore




We've got 16 teams, and a lot of them are locked in place. Here's where we stand in terms of playoff positioning going into Tuesday night's games. 

Eastern Conference:

The East is locked. With Miami's win over the Hawks combined with Boston's loss to the Wizards, along with the Sixers loss to the Magic, we have our first round playoff match-ups.

1 Chicago vs. 8 Indiana
2 Miami vs. 7 Philadelphia
3 Boston vs. 6 New York
4 Orlando vs. 5 Atlanta

Boston lucks out in this scenario. Without a legit center and against a weak rebounding team, their biggest concerns are mitigated, and it could allow them time to get back on their feet. Shutting down explosive stars is their business. Philadelphia, on the other hand, is the exact kind of team Miami could overlook. While the Sixers are outmatched at nearly every position outside point guard (even lacking a superior center). The Magic knew they were headed for the Hawks for weeks, same with Chicago and Indiana. 

New York landing as the six is considerably higher than many thought they would in the preseason. Philadelphia has to be unnerved they surrendered the sixth spot, but given their beginning, it's still a win. 

A likely Easteron Conference semi-finals series between Boston and Miami would begin with Game 1 in the great state of Florida. 

Western Conference: 

Things are much more liquid in the Western Conference. Denver's win over Golden State secures Denver in the fifth seed. The Spurs locked up the No. 1 seed a week ago. Other than that, everything's up in the air. Dallas' win over Houston after L.A.'s loss to the Thunder Sunday puts the 2 seed back in play. The Mavericks are now a half-game ahead of the Lakers for homecourt in a theoretical second round. The pressure is now on L.A. to break their five-game losing streak and close out the season to secure that seed. But then, lowering themselves to actually trying in games like this are not really the Lakers style. 

And oh, look at that, Oklahoma City is only a half game behind the Lakers. If the Lakers lose out, it's possible L.A. could wind up in the fourth spot, as crazy as that is. 

Meanwhile, as Denver is the dividing line between the insanity up-top and the looniness on the bottom, there's a continuing shuffling in spots 6-8. Portland remains in the driver's seat for the sixth seed. With the Hornets' loss to the Jazz, which was about as badly timed as it could have been, the Hornets have fallen to the 8th seed. Memphis is now in the seventh spot. The Grizzlies face the Blazers Tuesday night with the season series tied 1-1. Winner gets tiebreaker. Portland wins, they lock up the sixth. Grizzlies win, it comes down to Wednesday night's games. This situation is made trickier by not knowing how the top will look. In reality, everyone's trying to avoid the Lakers. But since L.A. could land anywhere between 2 and 4, there's no way to effectively duck them. If Portland wants to avoid the Lakers, for example, and think winning is the best way to do so, they could beat the Grizzlies, then watch Phil Jackson pull his starters against San Antonio and Sacramento. 

There's no way to tank to avoid opponents. It's a lottery at this point. Which is why so often coaches ignore such strategies at an organizational level. 

We'll update you after Tuesday's games. 
Posted on: April 12, 2011 1:29 am
 

How a random drawing could decide the Finals

Chicago and San Antonio could wind up needing a random drawing to determine home court advantage should they meet in the Finals. 
Posted by Matt Moore

Going into Tuesday night's games, the San Antonio Spurs have a one-game lead on the Chicago Bulls for homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs. They split the season series between the two 1-1. The Spurs have two games remaining, both versus Western Conference opponents.  The Bulls have two games remaining, both versus Eastern opponents. The Spurs are 23-7 against Eastern opponents, while the Bulls are 23-7 against Western opponents. 

Why is this information relevant? 

Because the NBA Finals could be determined by a random drawing. 

Should the Spurs and Bulls finish tied in overall record (Bulls go 1-1, Spurs 0-2; Bulls 2-0, Spurs 1-1) and meet in the Finals, the two will pass the first two tiebreakers. There are only three tiebreakers for homecourt advantage in the Finals. The third is a random drawing. 

The official NBA tiebreakers have a complex and thorough system which would actually lead to a Bulls advantage were they put into play. However, as ESPN pointed out, and a league release confirmed, the Finals operate on a different structure. First tiebreaker is, of course, head-to-head record, the second record against opposing conference, and the third a random drawing. So should Popovich's Spurs elect not to rest starters Tuesday, but do so Wednesday against the Suns, and the Bulls to stretch their 7-game winning streak to nine, and the Spurs and Bulls win their respective conference finals, we'll be seeing a random drawing to determine where the majority of games are played. 

Another sign of how close this season is between the greats in both conferences, and how much a role luck could conceivably play in determining the 2011 NBA Champion. 
Posted on: April 11, 2011 10:16 pm
Edited on: April 11, 2011 10:20 pm
 

Boston concedes second seed to Miami

The Celtics pulled their starters against Washington Monday night, then lost in overtime to clinch the second seed for the Heat, while they wind up in 3rd. They'll be on the road from the second round on. 
Posted by Matt Moore

The Celtics pulled their starters Monday night against Washington. Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen all sat out versus the Wizards. Not surprising with only two games before the start of the playoffs. But the Celtics were just a game back of the Heat, who played the Hawks Monday night (and won). 

Why would the Celtics have pulled starters when they still had a shot at getting homecourt advantage in the second round against Miami? The move represents a concession of homecourt to the Heat by not doing what is necessary to secure it. And in fact, the Celtics' second and third units lost to the Wizards in overtime, locking in the Heat as the second seed, and the Celtics into the third. 

It's curious that the Celtics would just surrender it, and it does represent a failure on their part this season. The Celtics made homecourt a priority for much of the season after losing Game 7 in Los Angeles in last year's Finals. Now they'll be on the road from the second round, on. The Celtics know they can win without homecourt advantage. They're a veteran team that's done it in series past. But it makes it that much harder, makes the hill that much steeper, makes it that much more difficult for a team that's still looking for its identity. 

There's no reason for Boston to panic.

There's just also very little reason for them not to panic. 
Posted on: April 8, 2011 10:24 pm
 

Bulls came, Bulls saw, Bulls clinched

Bulls clinch top seed in East with win over Cavaliers
Posted by Matt Moore

If it has seemed like Chicago fans count their chickens before they hatch, it's likely due in part to their belief in the sports equivalent of manifest destiny. After all, their franchise's championship years were forged by the fire of Jordan, which relied most heavily on self-assurance. "I win because I am." Derrick Rose has helped push that mindset back into function. He has been a force of nature, and has led the Bulls as a team and as a fanbase that they can and will win the championship simply because they will it to be so.

And now they've willed themselves to the No. 1 seed in the East. 

The Bulls clinched the top spot in the East with a 93-82 win against the Cavaliers, a fitting illustration of where we've gone to in a year, as the team that won the top spot in last year's playoffs lost to clinch this year's beast in the East. The Bulls are now assured homecourt advantage, in a rocking United Center, throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs. They are just a game back of San Antonio for homecourt advantage throughout the Finals. They hold a 3.5 game lead on the Lakers.

What does homecourt mean for Chicago? The Bulls lead the league in attendance per game this season. They have a big-market, high energy crowd in a building with history (and statues). Homecourt advantage means something entirely different for them than it does L.A., which suffers with traffic, distractions, and its fans being priced out. The United Center won't get as loud as Oklahoma City in the playoffs, but it'll be close. It's a hostile environment against a team that feeds on emotion and drive. For the Eastern powers to allow this was a severe mistake. 

Still, the Bulls now have the target on their back. They now have to be considered favorites against the other East powers. They reached this mark by playing the underdog, but now they're the favorite. How they react to that will be of vital importance. This team as constructed has never seen a postseason together. How will they react as the favorites? And with a first-round series against the Pacers which likely won't really test them in any meaningful way, how will they respond in the second round when the intensity increases? Say what you want about the Magic (assuming they topple the Hawks), but they do know how to play high-octane playoff basketball. 

But as always, it returns to Rose. As high energy as the United Center will be, Rose's calm, cool demeanor will set the tone and provide a rock for the team to rely on. They have experienced players like Carlos Boozer, Luol Deng, and Kyle Korver who have seen the playoffs. 

They have the star. They have the personnel. They have the coach. 

And now they have homecourt advantage. 
Beware the Bulls. 
Posted on: April 2, 2011 1:54 am
Edited on: April 2, 2011 3:49 am
 

Sixers clinch playoff spot, Pistons eliminated

Sixers clinch playoff spot as Detroit is eliminated. But why isn't Evan Turner playing?
Posted by Matt Moore




They were supposed to be an afterthought. Many, including this here blogger, thought it was time for a proper blowup. How far could they go with a broken down Elton Brand, a regressing Thaddeus Young, an inexperienced point guard in Jrue Holiday, and the ultimate jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none Andre Iguodala who had been on the trade block for what felt like a decade? 

Turns out pretty far.  As in, the playoffs. 

From the Philadelphia Inquirer's Deep Sixer blog: 
With tonight’s 115-90 win over the New Jersey Nets, the Sixers have clinched a playoff berth with exactly six games remaining in the NBA’s regular season schedule. Considering the Sixers are multiple games ahead of the New York Knicks and multiple games behind the Atlanta Hawks, it’s safe to assume they’ll end up with the sixth spot in the Eastern Conference. Their opponent, likely either the Miami Heat or the Boston Celtics, is yet to be determined.

Part of the interesting part of this game was the reaction from the Sixers. There wasn’t much celebration, which is a good sign. And there was much talk about ending this regular season quite well, something the 2008-09 team did not do.

“I think the biggest thing is for Elton and myself to really stay on the guys as far as having a purpose every night,” said swingman Andre Iguodala. “We got there, but we still have a purpose. We still have to go out there and play hard.”
via Deep Sixer: Inquirer Sports.

The Sixers are in, Detroit is out. The Pistons were eliminated with the Pacers win over Milwaukee (which pretty much, but not officially sunk the Bucks as well). The Pistons never got it together this season, despite some promising young players, mostly because their older players undermined their coach, who also did a pretty terrible job. The roster needs a major overhaul, and fast. The entire team needs a new coach, a new identity, and a new emphasis on the young core they have. Oh, and a new owner. That'd be good, too. 

Back to the Sixers, Philadelphia is as playing as well right now as any team outside of the elite teams in either conference. While Boston is their likely opponent, and will likely dispatch them post-haste, the Sixers do have some matchups they can throw at either Boston, Chicago, or Miami. Perhaps most importantly, the Sixers are getting even contributions from multiple sets of players, from the bench, from the bigs, from the guards, and the wings. The team believes in itself, and that can be a scary thing to try and overcome for a favorite in the first round. Throw in some Coach of the Year quality work from Doug Collins, and the Sixers haven't just assured they'll be in the dance, they're goin to be a tough out. 

Lost in all this is the fact that Evan Turner yet again did not play Friday night. Turner has been DNP-CD'd multiple times down the stretch, in favor of... Andres Nocioni. Doug Collins is the guy who turned this team around and got them into the playoffs, so you have to extend a modicum of respect for his decisions which have gotten them this far. But the absence of the Sixers' second overall pick remains a curious question mark for the team going forward. 

The Sixers are very near a mathematical certainty to play as the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference. For more on the playoff picture, check out Royce Young's comprehensive look
Posted on: March 28, 2011 11:30 pm
 

Celtics lose again, now tied with Miami for 2nd

Pacers out-execute Celtics down the stretch in key game for playoff positioning. No, you're not reading that wrong. 
Posted by Matt Moore

There can be no insinuation of a lack of effort here. This wasn't about boredom or age, or coasting. The Celtics genuinely gave a tough effort against the Pacers Monday night, but Indiana walked away with the win for one simple reason: execution. The Celtics played with energy but also played out of rhythm wildly, throwing away needless turnovers and missing key shots in a 107-100 loss to the Pacers. 

The result? The Celtics are now tied with the Miami Heat for the second overall seed in the East. They lost no ground to Chicago after the Bulls' loss to the Sixers, but Miami is now in surprisingly good position to close out the season and nab homecourt advantage in a possible 2-3 matchup. Oh, and the Lakers are now up on the Celtics by 2 games. Not that that's likely to come into play later. 

It was an up and down performance for the Celtics. In the opening minutes, they poured it on the Pacers, dropping 33 points in the opening frame. But the Pacers pushed back hard and wound up with a halftime lead after nearly getting doubled up in the second quarter. Then in the third, you know where this is going, right? The Celtics put on the effort, play great defense, land huge threes, and retake the lead. 

And then the fourth. Oh, goodness, the fourth. 

Most surprising in the 15-point quarter were the turnovers, created by and finished off of by Darren Collison. Collison was worked over for three quarters of this game, then all of a sudden Rajon Rondo got worked over by Collison. Collison flipped in-between screens, nailed pull-up Js, hit floaters, and generally dissected the Celtics. But the biggest factor in this game was what should concern the Celtics, and that was Roy Hibbert. Hibbert landed 26 points. This on a Celtics team that prides itself on the ability to shut down the opposing team's big men. Not to put too fine a point on it, but this is not going to help the questions about how much this team misses Kendrick Perkins

The Celtics had their chances to win the game, but missed key shots from both Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. Just typing that felt weird. 

Meanwhile, the Pacers got a big win as they continue to cling to the eighth spot in the East over the surging Bobcats by a game. The Pacers have little room for error, but you have to feel like this is the kind of momentum swing game that can help a team push to the finish line. They simply out-executed the reigning Eastern Conference champs. Everyone in the picture is playing for something. Monday night the Pacers and Celtics both played like it, but for once, it was the Celtics coming up short. The good news for Boston? 

It looks increasingly unlikely they'll be seeing the Pacers again this year. 
 
 
 
 
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