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NBA playoff picture and magic numbers update 4.14.13

By Matt Moore | NBA writer

It's all on Dwight, now.    (Getty Images)
It's all on Dwight Howard now. (Getty Images)

Relevant Games on Sunday:

Chicago at Miami: Miami has nothing to play for. But a Bulls win puts Chicago back into the fifth spot and it will control its own destiny.

Indiana at New York: A Knicks win clinches the No. 2 seed and a matchup with the Celtics in the first round. A Pacers win and a Nets loss clinches a top-three seed for Indiana, locks Brooklyn into the No. 4 position and moves the Pacers within two games of the Knicks. An Indiana loss and a Brooklyn win moves the Nets within one game of the No. 3 seed.

Brooklyn at Toronto: An Indiana loss and a Brooklyn win moves the Nets within one game of the No. 3 seed.

Portland at Denver: A Denver win makes its magic number for home court over Memphis one and its magic number for the No. 3 seed over the Clippers two. A Denver loss means the Clippers control their own destiny for the No. 3 seed and home court.

Sacramento at Houston: A Houston win locks the Rockets into no worse than seventh and into a tie with the Warriors for the sixth seed. They also have the tiebreaker and would then control their own destiny for the sixth seed.

San Antonio at Los Angeles Lakers: The show must go on. A win by the Lakers and a loss Monday by the Jazz will clinch the eighth spot for the Lakers. The Spurs move back into a tie for the No. 1 seed with the Thunder with a win, but the Thunder have the tiebreaker advantage. A Lakers win and a Rockets loss moves the Lakers within a half-game of the seventh seed. A Lakers loss on Sunday and a Jazz win on Monday means the Jazz control their own destiny for the eighth seed.

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. They will face the Milwuakee Bucks in the first round.

No. 2/3 seeds: The Knicks are three games ahead of Indiana with three games to play. They have clinched the Atlantic Division and a top-three seed. Their magic number to clinch the No. 2 seed is one.

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

Indiana owns the head-to-head tiebreaker over New York in the event of a tie. New York can't get lower than the 3-seed; Indiana cannot finish lower than the fourth. The Nets own the tiebreaker over the Pacers.

No. 4 seed: Brooklyn has clinched a top-four seed and home court in the first round.

No. 5/6 seeds: The Bulls fell back by a half-game on Friday after their loss to Toronto and Atlanta's win over Milwaukee. Atlanta is now in the fifth seed with two games to play, three for Chicago. Chicago controls its own destiny.

The Hawks' win combined with the Celtics' loss to the Heat on Friday means Atlanta can finish no worse than sixth. The Hawks don't control their own destiny for the fifth seed.

No. 7 seed: The Celtics clinched the No. 7 seed on Saturday with a win over Orlando. They will face either New York or Indiana.

No. 8 seed: Milwaukee has been locked into the eighth seed. May God have mercy on their souls.

Matchups (bold indicates locked):

Miami Heat (No. 1 seed) vs. Milwaukee Bucks (8)

New York Knicks (2) vs. Boston Celtics (7)

Indiana Pacers (3) vs. Chicago Bulls (6)

Brooklyn Nets (4) vs. Atlanta Hawks (5)

Western Conference:

No. 1/2 seeds: The Thunder remained a half-game ahead of San Antonio for first place on Friday. The Thunder clinched the tiebreaker due to its 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 has clinched the Northwest Division. They can finish no worse than second. The Spurs also clinched a top-two seed on Friday night and home court throughout the semifinals, should they advance that far.

The Thunder's magic number for the No. 1 seed is three.

No. 3/4/5 seeds: The whole big mess starts with Denver, which has been eliminated from division championship contention. The Nuggets have clinched no worse than fifth over the Warriors. Denver is a half-game ahead of the Clippers for third and a half-game ahead of Memphis.

Denver holds the tiebreaker over the Grizzlies via head-to-head, but the Clippers hold the tiebreaker having won their division. Denver's magic number for the 3-seed remains three after the Clippers' win. Their magic number for home court after the Grizzlies' loss on Saturday is two.

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 begin in Los Angeles.

Memphis has clinched no worse than fifth.

If Denver wins out, it is the third seed.

If Denver and the Clippers win out, Denver is the third seed, Clippers are the fourth seed, Grizzlies are the fifth seed and the Clippers have home court. If Denver wins out, the Grizzlies win out and the Clippers lose once, the Nuggets are third, Clippers fourth and Grizzlies fifth, but Grizzlies have home court.

If Denver loses once and the Clippers and Grizzlies win out, the Clippers are third, the Nuggets are fourth and the Grizzlies are fifth with Denver having home court. If Denver loses once, the Clippers win out, and the Grizzlies lose once, the Clippers are third, the Nuggets are fourth, the Grizzlies are fifth and Denver has home court.

For the Grizzlies to get the No. 3 seed, they must win out, the Nuggets must lose twice and the Clippers must lose once. For the Grizzlies to get home court, they must win out, the Nuggets must lose twice OR the Clippers must lose once.

Complicated enough for you?

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 three. 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 1 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 remain a full game ahead of Utah for the eighth seed after their win on Friday over the Warriors. Utah has two games remaining and owns the tiebreaker over the Lakers, who also have two games remaining. The Lakers control their own destiny.

The Lakers' magic number for the playoffs is two. A win vs. the Spurs on Sunday and a Jazz loss on Monday clinches the eighth seed for the Lakers. Otherwise, this will go down to the last game.

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; Clippers home-court advantage)

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