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NBA playoff picture, magic numbers 4.17.13: It all comes down to this

By Matt Moore | NBA writer

The Jazz and Lakers wrestle for a playoff spot on the last night of the season.   (USATSI)
The Jazz and Lakers wrestle for a playoff spot on the last night of the season. (USATSI)

Relevant Games on Wednesday:

Phoenix at Denver: Nuggets claim the third seed with a win. A loss and a Clippers win locks Denver into the fourth seed.

Washington at Chicago: A Bulls win locks Chicago into the fifth seed vs. Brooklyn. A loss and a Hawks win claims the sixth seed for Chicago vs. Indiana.

Atlanta at New York: A Hawks loss clinches the sixth seed vs. Indiana. A Hawks win and a Bulls loss clinches the fifth for Atlanta.

Utah at Memphis: Both teams are in must-wins, Utah more so. Utah needs a win plus a Lakers loss to the Rockets to sneak in and win the eighth seed. Memphis needs a win plus a Clippers loss to claim home court in the first round. With a loss, Utah is eliminated from playoff contention. With a loss, the Grizzlies won't have home court throughout any of the playoffs.

Golden State at Portland: A Warriors victory wins the sixth seed and a matchup with the Nuggets or Clippers. A Warriors loss and a Rockets win slips Golden State to seventh and a matchup with the Spurs. A Warriors loss and a Rockets loss keeps Golden State in sixth.

Houston at Los Angeles Lakers: The big one. A Lakers win earns a playoff spot for the Lakers as, believe it or not, the seventh seed. A loss and a Utah win eliminates the Lakers from the playoffs. A loss and a Utah loss wins the eighth seed for the Lakers. A Rockets win and a Warriors loss gives Houston the sixth seed. A Rockets win and a Warriors win gives Houston the seventh seed vs. San Antonio. A Rockets loss and they are the eighth seed vs. Oklahoma City.

Los Angeles Clippers at Sacramento: A Clippers win earns home-court advantage. A Clippers win and a Denver loss gives the sixth seed to the Clippers and a matchup with Golden State or Houston. A Clippers loss wins the fourth seed for the Clippers. A Clippers loss and a Grizzlies win means the Clippers will not have home-court advantage during any part of the playoffs. A Clippers win and a Denver victory wins the fourth seed and home court vs. Memphis for the Clippers.

Scenarios:

No. 1 seed: The Miami Heat have won first place in the Southeast Division, the conference and home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. They will face the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round.

No. 2 seed: The Knicks have won the Atlantic Division and the No. 2 seed. They will face the Boston Celtics in the first round.

No. 3 seed: Indiana has won the Central Division and the No. 3 seed. They will face either the Chicago Bulls or Atlanta Hawks in the first round.

No. 4 seed: Brooklyn has won the No. 4 seed and home court in the first round.

No. 5/6 seeds: The Bulls moved into a tie for fifth when the Hawks apparently tanked on Tuesday night. The Hawks apparently want the sixth seed and a matchup vs. the Pacers. A Bulls win or Hawks loss on Wednesday wins the fifth for Chicago, which would face Brooklyn, and the sixth for Atlanta vs. the Pacers.

Atlanta needs a Bulls loss and a Hawks loss vs. New York on Wednesday to retake the fifth and win it.

No. 7 seed: The Celtics are the No. 7 seed. They will face the Knicks in the first round.

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 seed: The Thunder have claimed the No. 1 seed in the West and will face Houston, the Lakers or the Jazz in the first round.

No. 2 seed: The Spurs are the No. 2 seed and will face Golden State, Houston or the Lakers in the first round.

No. 3/4/5 seeds: The whole big mess starts with Denver, which clinched home-court advantage in the first round on Monday.

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 is one. If they fall to the four and face the Grizzlies, they will have home-court advantage.

The Clippers clinched the Pacific Division title, their first division title in franchise history. They are one game back of Denver and tied with Memphis. Should they tie, they have the tiebreaker over Memphis for the fourth and home court.

If the playoffs started today, the 4-5 Clippers-Grizzlies matchup would begin in Los Angeles.

Memphis has clinched the fifth seed.

If the Nuggets and Clippers win on Wednesday, Denver is the third seed, the Clippers fourth, the Grizzlies fifth with the Clippers having home-court advantage.

If the Nuggets lose and the Clippers win on Wednesday, the Clippers are the third seed, the Nuggets are the fourth seed, and the Grizzlies are fifth, with Denver having home court.

If the Nuggets lose, the Clippers lose, and the Grizzlies win on Wednesday, Denver is third, Clippers fourth, Memphis fifth and Memphis has home-court advantage.

If the Clippers lose and the Grizzlies lose, Denver is third, Clippers are fourth, Denver is fifth, and the Clippers have home court.

Nuggets win OR Clippers lose: Denver is third.

Clippers lose AND Grizzlies win: Grizzlies have home court vs. Clippers.

Nuggets lose AND Clippers win: Clippers are third, Denver has home court vs. Memphis.

Everyone wins: Denver is third, Clippers have home court vs. Grizzlies.

Everyone loses: Denver is third, Clippers have home court vs. Grizzlies.

No. 6/7/8 seeds:

Golden State plays Portland on Wednesday.

Houston plays the Lakers on Wednesday. Pay attention; that's important.

Utah plays Memphis on Wednesday.

The Warriors are currently the sixth seed and control their own destiny. They cannot finish worse than seventh. The Jazz's win moved them within a game of the eighth seed with their win Monday vs. San Antonio.

A Warriors win or Rockets loss on Wednesday wins the sixth seed for Golden State. They would play whoever comes out of that mess up above. If the Warriors win and the Rockets lose to the Lakers, the Warriors finish sixth, the Lakers finish seventh and the Rockets fall to eighth. If the Warriors and Rockets win and the Jazz lose, the Warriors finish sixth, the Rockets seventh and the Lakers eighth. If the Warriors win, Rockets and Jazz win, the Warriors finish sixth, the Rockets seventh and the Jazz eighth.

A Warriors loss and a Rockets victory wins the sixth for Houston and the seventh for Golden State by virtue of Houston's tiebreaker. Then if Utah wins, they get the eighth and the Lakers are out. If the Jazz lose in that scenario, the Lakers are in and get the eighth and the Jazz are out.

So if the following teams win, then (scenario):

Warriors, Rockets, Jazz: 6. Warriors, 7. Rockets, 8. Jazz

Warriors , Lakers, Jazz: 6. Warriors, 7. Lakers, 8. Rockets

Warriors, Rockets, Grizzlies: 6. Warriors, 7. Rockets, 8. Lakers

Warriors, Lakers, Grizzlies: 6. Warriors, 7. Lakers, 8. Rockets

Blazers, Rockets, Jazz: 6. Rockets, 7. Warriors, 8. Jazz

Blazers, Rockets, Grizzlies: 6. Rockets, 7. Warriors, 8. Lakers

Blazers, Lakers, Jazz: 6. Warriors, 7. Lakers, 8. Rockets

Blazers, Lakers, Grizzlies: 6. Warriors, 7. Lakers, 8. Rockets

Matchups (bold indicates locked):

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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