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NBA Playoff Picture and magic numbers for Monday, April 23rd

By Matt Moore | NBA writer
Each morning we'll update you on the playoff race in both conferences. Not just who is how many games out of what seed, but what the seedings and matchups mean for each team based on what we've seen. For our complete playoff standings, click here. For yesterday's primer, click here.

Current matchups:

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

San Antonio (1) vs. Utah (8)
Oklahoma City (2) vs. Dallas (7)
Los Angeles Lakers (3) vs. Denver (6)
Los Angeles Clippers (4) vs. Memphis (5)

Eastern Conference



East No.1 and No.2 seeds: Miami would not go quietly into that dark night, holding off the Bulls' celebration with a win over the Rockets. The Bulls' magic number to clinch the No.1 seed in the East remains at one. Both teams are off Monday, so it'll come down to Tuesday. Miami plays Boston. A Celtics win gives the Bulls the top spot. If the Heat win, the attention shifts to the Bulls facing the Pacers on Wednesday. If the Pacers pull off a win against the Bulls, things will get interesting. To be continued...

East No.3 seed: The Hawks' loss to the Knicks clinches the third seed for the Pacers. There's a very narrow chance they could face the Knicks, but Frank Vogel would be better off planning on guarding Jason Richardson and Ryan Anderson. Pacers-Magic is nearly inevitable.

East No.4 and No.5 seed: Boston-Atlanta is locked. That's our first confirmed matchup for the 2012 playoffs.

East No.6 and No.7 seeds: The Knicks have a very thin shot at the sixth seed. If the Magic go 0-2 and the Knicks go 2-0, the Knicks take the six with tiebreaker, dropping Orlando into a matchup with the second seed and an even faster exit in the first round.

The Magic have tiebreaker over the Sixers, so even if they went 0-2 and the Knicks and Sixers finished out 2-0, the Magic would hold onto the seven. I'm sure they're giddy.

The Knicks hold tiebreaker over Philadelphia so their magic number for the seven is two. The Sixers need to go 3-0 if the Knicks go 1-1. If the Knicks go 0-2, the Sixers can drop one and still win the seven. Philadelphia faces three lottery teams to finish the season.

East No.8 seed: For Milwaukee, it's simple. Bucks have to win three. The Sixers have to lose three. Any deviation from that and the Bucks are headed home for May and the Sixers clinch.

Western Conference


West No.1 and No.2 seeds: Oklahoma City's loss to the Lakers, elbow and all, was pretty significant. The Spurs' magic number is one. A win over Portland and the top seed is San Antonio's. The Spurs face Portland at home Monday.

With the bottom of the West looking more and more like the Mavericks and then the Jazz, getting the No.2 might not be that bad. The Mavs are an inconsistent mess and are missing most of the reasons they toppled the Thunder last year, while the Jazz are dynamic and hungry. You know, the kind of team that the Spurs have nightmares about after last year. The Grizzlies were better than this Jazz team, but it's still not a bad land to get the Mavs.

West No.3, No.4, and No.5 seeds: The Lakers won, and in doing so clinched no worse than the fourth seed. A Clippers win over New Orleans kept the Clippers' narrow window propped open for another two days. The Lakers' magic number to win the West No.3 is just one.

The Grizzlies can only climb to the No.4 now. Memphis has to go 0-2 and the Clippers have to go 0-2 for Memphis to snag homecourt in the first-round.

West No.6 and No.7 seeds: The Denver win over Orlando... doesn't really change much for them. A half-game ahead of Dallas with three games left on their schedule, but Dallas has the tiebreaker.

The Nuggets' magic number is two. A loss to OKC on Tuesday means they'll need a Mavericks' loss to Atlanta and a win over Minnesota Thursday to win the seventh. Denver needs to avoid Oklahoma City as much as possible. It's a nightmare set of matchups for them, as evidenced by last year's first-round series.

There's a remote possiblity that the Jazz could wind up in the seventh if Denver lost two and Utah won two.

West No. 8: Houston lost to Miami. They have been eliminated. Thanks for joining us, Houston, and enjoy your parting gifts.

It's down to Utah vs. Phoenix on Tuesday. A Utah win clinches at least the 8th for the Jazz. A Phoenix means the Suns need a win or a Jazz loss Thursday to sneak into the 8th spot. Phoenix cannot climb higher than the 8th.
 
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