NBA playoff picture and magic numbers update 4.12.13

By Matt Moore | NBA writer

The Clippers are in the thick of the playoffs race.    (Getty Images)
The Clippers are in the thick of the race for home court. (USATSI)

Relevant Games on Friday:

NOTE: Things are remarkably complicated due to the magic numbers and number of teams playing Friday. We recommend finding the specific game that pertains to your specific team and focusing on that. And getting a calculator.

Chicago at Toronto: The Bulls can clinch no worse than sixth with a win or Celtics loss on Friday. A Bulls loss and a Nets win mean the Bulls cannot finish higher than fifth and will not have home court in the first round.

Brooklyn at Indiana: A Pacers win clinches no worse than third for Indiana. A Nets win and a Bulls loss clinches no worse than fourth for the Nets. A Nets win moves them within two games of the third seed.

Boston at Miami: Miami has absolutely nothing to play for, so, you know, don't expect the stars to come out. The Celtics are planning on resting their guys as well. A Hawks win and a Celtics loss ensures that the Celtics can't move up. Likewise, a Celtics win and a Bucks loss locks the Bucks into eighth. A Hawks loss and a Celtics win moves the Celtics within 1 1/2 games of sixth.

Milwaukee at Atlanta: Bucks lose, Celtics win, and the Bucks are eighth Hawks win, Celtics lose, and the Hawks are assured no worse than sixth. Bucks win, Celtics win, and pretty much nothing happens.

New York at Cleveland: A Knicks win and a Pacers loss moves the Knicks within one win or Pacer loss of the 2-seed and home court through the semifinals.

Memphis at Houston: OK, if you thought the above was complex. Wait till we get into the West 3-4-5. All right, a Grizzlies win and a Nuggets loss and the Grizzlies move into a tie for the third seed, but Denver still has tiebreaker. A Grizzlies win and a Clippers loss means if Memphis wins Saturday vs. the Clippers, they clinch home-court advantage in the first round. Likewise, a Denver win and a Clippers loss moves the Grizzlies into a tie with the Clippers, and the Clippers have tiebreaker. In that scenario, the Clippers would control their own destiny for home court. A Houston win and a Golden State loss means Houston moves into the sixth seed by a half-game. A Golden State win and a Houston loss puts Golden State in prime position to lock the sixth by the end of the day Monday.

L.A. Clippers at New Orleans: A Clippers win and a Grizzlies loss moves the Clippers back into control for home court in the first round vs. Denver. A Clippers win, a Grizzlies loss and a Nuggets loss puts the Clippers into control for home court vs. Memphis and brings them within a game of Denver for the 3-seed. A Nuggets win and a Clippers loss makes Denver's magic number is just one with two home games remaining for the West's best home team. A Grizzlies win and a Clippers loss moves Memphis within one win or Clippers loss of locking homecourt.

Denver at Dallas: Dallas is eliminated, nothing left to play for. A Denver win and a Clippers loss makes Denver's magic number one. A Denver loss and a Grizzlies loss moves the Nuggets into a tie with the Grizzlies, but they have the tiebreaker. A Denver win, a Grizzlies loss and a Clippers loss means the Nuggets lock home court. How, you ask? Memphis and the Clippers will play Saturday. If Denver beat Memohis and the Clippers lose their Friday game, Denver's magic number is one over both of those teams. So whoever loses Saturday would hit the magic number for Denver. Fun times!

Sacramento at San Antonio: A Spurs win or a Nuggets loss clinches a top-two seed for the Spurs. A Spurs win and a Thunder loss moves San Antonio back into first place in the West by a half-game.

Oklahoma City at Portland: A Thunder win and a Spurs loss moves the Thunder 1 1/2 games ahead of the Spurs for the No. 1 seed, and they now have the tiebreaker. A Thunder win clinches the Northwest Division and a top-two seed.

Minnesota at Utah: Utah needs this game. If the Jazz win and the Lakers lose, Utah moves back into the eighth seed by virtue of the tiebreaker. If the Jazz lose and the Lakers win, the Lakers would have a two-game lead with two games left for both teams. If that happens, the Lakers would have to lose both games and the Jazz would have to win both to get the eighth.

Golden State at Los Angeles Lakers: Warriors lose, Rockets win and the Warriors are bumped to seventh. A Warriors win or a Lakers loss clinches no worse than seventh for Golden State. A Lakers win and a Jazz loss gives them a two-game lead with two to play but without the tiebreaker. A Lakers loss and a Jazz win moves Utah back into eighth. Friday is big.

Scenarios:

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 are two games ahead of Indiana with their loss to Chicago on Thursday. They have clinched the Atlantic Division and a top-three seed. Their magic number to clinch the No. 2 seed is three.

The Pacers have clinched the Central Division. Their magic number for a top-three seed is one.

Indiana owns 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 cannot finish lower than the fourth.

No. 4 seed: Brooklyn's magic number for the No. 4 seed and home court in the first round remains two after the Bulls' win on Thursday. The Nets have a three-game lead over Chicago for the No. 4 seed. Brooklyn has clinched a playoff berth and can finish no lower than fifth.

No. 5/6 seeds: The Bulls' magic number for no worse than sixth is one, for no worse than fifth is three. The Bulls have clinched a playoff berth. They are a half-game ahead of Atlanta for the No. 5 seed and have the tiebreaker. They are three games behind Brooklyn for the fourth seed, and they have the 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 but failed to win the Atlantic Division for the first time in six seasons. Their magic number to clinch no worse than seventh is two after the Bucks' loss on Wednesday. They are three behind the Bulls for fifth, and Chicago has the tiebreaker. They're also 2 1/2 behind Atlanta, but they have the 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. A loss and a Boston win Friday locks them into the 8-seed.

Current matchups:

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)

Western Conference:

No. 1/2 seeds: The Thunder's win on Thursday moved OKC a half-game ahed of San Antonio for first place. The Thunder clinched the tiebreaker due to conference record over San Antonio (should they need it). 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 one over Denver, and Denver is 3 1/2 games back. The Spurs' magic number for a top-two seed is one. A Nuggets loss, Oklahoma City win and San Antonio win on Friday secures home court for the Thunder and Spurs for the first two rounds.

No. 3/4/5 seeds: The whole big mess starts with Denver, which is 3 1/2 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 three.

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. They are a half-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 has clinched a playoff berth and is 2 1/2 games ahead of the Lakers for the eighth. Their magic number for no worse than seventh is one over the Lakers. They are a half-game behind the Warriors for sixth.

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 the tiebreaker. 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. On the flip side, a Lakers win over Golden State and a Jazz loss to Minnesota on Friday would mean the Lakers can clinch a playoff spot with a win on Sunday over San Antonio. No pressure.

Current matchups:

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)

 
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