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NBA playoff picture and magic number update

By Matt Moore | NBA writer

Here's a look at where we are with the playoff picture as of April 2.

Eastern Conference:

No. 1 seed: The Miami Heat have clinched a playoff berth, the Southeast Division, the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs and own a 3 1/2-game lead on the Spurs for home court throughout the playoffs. They also have the tiebreaker on both San Antonio and Oklahoma City. So, yeah, they're in a pretty good position. Funny what a 27-game winning streak will do.

No. 2/3 seeds: The Pacers continued their see-saw battle with the Knicks for the 2-seed, moving a half-game up on New York after their win over the Clippers on Monday night. New York can reclaim the No. 2 seed with a win over the Heat on Tuesday night.

The Pacers' magic number to win the Central Division is just two.

Indiana does have the head-to-head tiebreaker over New York in the event of a tie.

The Knicks' magic number for the Atlantic Division is six over Brooklyn.

No. 4 seed: Brooklyn's magic number for the 4-seed and home court in the first round is nine. They have a game lead over Atlanta and a 1 1/2-game lead over Chicago for the 4. Brooklyn has clinched a playoff berth.

No. 5/6 seeds: Atlanta has clinched a playoff berth and has a half-game lead over Chicago.

The Bulls' magic number for no worse than sixth is seven. The Bulls have clinched a playoff berth. The Bulls can move back into the fifth seed with a win over Washington on Tuesday.

No. 7 seed: The Celtics' magic number to clinch a playoff berth is two: two wins, a win and a loss by Philadelphia or two Philly losses). A Knicks win on Tuesday eliminates the Celtics from the possibility of winning the Atlantic Division, something they've done the past five seasons.

No. 8 seed: Milwaukee is 1 1/2 games behind Boston for the seventh seed. Their magic number to clinch a playoff berth is four.

Current matchups:

1. Miami Heat vs. 8. Milwaukee Bucks

2. Indiana Pacers vs. 7. Boston Celtics

3. New York Knicks vs. 6. Chicago Bulls

4. Brooklyn Nets vs. 5. Atlanta Hawks

Western Conference:

No. 1 seed: The Spurs' magic number to clinch the No. 1 seed in the West is seven with eight games to play. Their magic number for the division is three over Memphis. Three wins will also clinch them no worse than second.

No. 2 seed: The Thunder are a game back of the Spurs for the No. 1 seed in the West. Their magic number for the division is five over Denver.

No. 3/4/5 seeds: The whole big mess starts with Denver, which is four games back in the division. The Nuggets have clinched no worse than fifth over the Warriors. Denver is 1 1/2 games ahead of the Clippers for third and tied with Memphis.

Denver holds tiebreakers over the Clippers and Grizzliesin terms of wins, but the Clippers hold the tiebreaker should they win the division.

The Clippers' magic number for the Pacific Division is two, where it has been for five days. The Clippers are 1 1/2 games back of both Denver and Memphis but, thanks to the rules about division leaders, maintain a lead over Memphis for the fourth due to the tiebreaker.

If the playoffs started today, the 4-5 Clippers-Grizzlies matchup would start in Memphis.

Memphis has clinched no worse than fifth.

No. 6 seed: The Warriors are a game ahead of Houston. Their magic number to clinch a playoff berth is five.

No. 7 seed: Houston is 2 1/2 games ahead of Utah. Its magic number to clinch a playoff berth is five.

No. 8 seed: The Jazz hold the eighth seed by a half-game. Utah has the tiebreaker over the Lakers and Dallas. This one's likely going the distance.

Current matchups:

1. San Antonio Spurs vs. 8. Utah Jazz

2. Oklahoma City Thunder vs. 7. Houston Rockets

3. Denver Nuggets vs. 6. Golden State Warriors

4. Los Angeles Clippers vs. 5. Memphis Grizzlies (Grizzlies home-court advantage)

Relevant games on Tuesday:

Chicago at Washington

New York at Miami

Dallas at Lakers

If the Mavs want any shot at climbing over both teams in front of them, they have to win Tuesday. Dropping back 2 1/2 games of the Lakers with so few games remaining and headed into a game in Denver on Thursday might be too steep a hill to climb. It's not a must win, but it's a need win.

Chicago is just keeping pace.

Neither the Kncks nor Heat particularly need Tuesday's game; it's more of a pride endeavor. The Knicks were disheartened by their last loss to the Heat and want to get some swagger back headed into the playoffs. The Heat simply might not want to surrender a game to a conference contender. We'll be able to judge how seriously they consider the Knicks as a threat based on whether the superstars play.

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