Relevant Games Thursday
New York at Chicago: New York can shorten its magic number for the 2-seed to two, building a three-game lead with four games to play with a win. The Bulls can regain a foothold for the fifth seed with a win and move back within three games of Brooklyn with a win. A loss puts Chicago back into sixth and a probable first-round matchup with the Pacers, a much tougher draw.
Oklahoma City at Golden State: The Thunder can move a half-game up in the win column over the Spurs with a win and set themselves up for great position to get the 1-seed. A Warriors win clinches no worse than seventh and gives them a 1 1/2-game lead over Houston for the sixth seed.
No. 1 seed: The Miami Heat have clinched a playoff berth, the Southeast Division, the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs and home-court advantage throughout the playoffs after their win on Wednesday night.
No. 2/3 seeds: The Knicks stayed 2 1/2 games ahead of Indiana with their win over Washington on Tuesday. They have clinched the Atlantic Division and a top-three seed. Their magic number to clinch the No. 2 seed is three.
The Pacers clinched the Central Division on Sunday night with the Bulls' loss to the Pistons. Their magic number for a top-three seed is one.
Indiana does have the head-to-head tiebreaker over New York in the event of a tie. New York can't get lower than the three seed; Indiana can't get lower than the fourth.
No. 4 seed: Brooklyn's magic number for the No. 4 seed and home court in the first round is two after the Nets' win on Wednesday. The Nets have a 3 1/2-game lead over Chicago for the No. 4 seed. Brooklyn has clinched a playoff berth and can finish no lower than the fifth seed.
No. 5/6 seeds: The Bulls' magic number for no worse than sixth is three, no worse than fifth is four. The Bulls have clinched a playoff berth. They are tied with Atlanta for the No. 5 seed, but have the tiebreaker. They are 3 1/2-games behind Brooklyn for the fourth seed, and they have tiebreaker there, too. All sorts of tiebreakers for Chicago.
Atlanta has clinched a playoff berth. Its lead on Boston for the sixth seed is 2 1/2 games, and its magic number for no lower than sixth is two.
No. 7 seed: The Celtics have clinched a playoff berth. They can't win the Atlantic Division, which they did the past five seasons. Their magic number to clinch no worse than seventh is two after the Bucks' loss on Wednesday, and they are 2 1/2 games behind the Bulls for fifth, but Chicago has the tiebreaker. They're also 2 1/2 behind Atlanta, but they have tiebreaker over Atlanta.
No. 8 seed: Milwaukee has clinched a playoff berth, for all the good it will do them. They are three games back of Boston for the seventh.
Miami Heat (No. 1 seed) vs. Milwaukee Bucks (8)
New York Knicks (2) vs. Boston Celtics (7)
Indiana Pacers (3) vs. Atlanta Hawks (6)
Brooklyn Nets (4) vs. Chicago Bulls (5)
No. 1/2 seeds: The Spurs' loss on Wednesday moved OKC back into first place due to the tiebreaker. Their tiebreaker situation with the Spurs is pending the finish of the regular season (conference record). With the Heat's win on Tuesday, the Thunder would not have home-court advantage if they meet the Heat in a Finals rematch.
OKC's magic number to clinch the division is still two over Denver, and Denver is three games back. The Spurs' magic number for a top-two seed is one.
No. 3/4/5 seeds: The whole big mess starts with Denver, which is three games back in the division. The Nuggets have clinched no worse than fifth over the Warriors. Denver is two games ahead of the Clippers for third, one ahead of Memphis, and has the tiebreaker.
Denver holds tiebreakers over the Clippers and Grizzlies in terms of wins, but the Clippers hold the tiebreaker should they win the division. Denver's magic number for the 3-seed is four.
The Clippers clinched the Pacific Division title, their first division title in franchise history. They are one game back of Memphis and two games back of Denver but, thanks to the rules about division leaders, maintain a lead over Memphis for the fourth due to the division-leader/winner tiebreaker.
If the playoffs started today, the 4-5 Clippers-Grizzlies matchup would start in Memphis. Memphis' magic number for home court in the first round (as a 5-seed) is four.
Memphis has clinched no worse than fifth.
No. 6 seed: The Warriors have clinched their first playoff berth since 2007 with their win and the Jazz's loss on Tuesday night. They are one game ahead of Houston for the sixth seed. Their magic number for the 6-seed is four. That one could come down to the wire. Their magic number for no worse than seventh is one.
No. 7 seed: Houston is 2 1/2 games ahead of the Lakers for the eighth. The Rockets clinched a playoff berth on Tuesday night. Their magic number for no worse than seventh is one over the Lakers.
No. 8 seed: The Lakers moved back a full game ahead for the eighth seed on Wednesday with their win over the Blazers. Utah has three games remaining and owns the tiebreaker over the Lakers, who also have three games remaining. The Lakers control their own destiny, a position they have not done well with lately.
The Lakers' magic number for the playoffs is three. Two wins and a Jazz loss, a win and two Jazz losses, three wins or any combination, and the Lakers will have finally made the postseason. Jazz have to catch but do have tiebreaker, which helps them. If the Lakers stumble at all with Golden State on Friday or the Spurs on Sunday, the door will be open again for the Jazz to sneak back in.
The Dallas Mavericks have been eliminated from postseason contention for the first time since 2000 after the Lakers' win on Wednesday following Dallas' loss at home to Phoenix. It's down to Utah and the Lakers.
Oklahoma City Thunder (No. 1 seed) vs. Los Angeles Lakers (8)
San Antonio Spurs (2) vs. Houston Rockets (7)
Denver Nuggets (3) vs. Golden State Warriors (6)
Los Angeles Clippers (4) vs. Memphis Grizzlies (5; Grizzlies home-court advantage)