Entering the final day of the 2012-2013 NBA Season, there is still one ticket to the playoffs up for grabs, going to either the Los Angeles Lakers or the Utah Jazz, while the Houston Rockets, Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Clippers, Denver Nuggets and Memphis Grizzlies have positional battles in the West; the Atlanta Hawks and the Chicago are the only teams left interested in the finish out East.
In what looked like a pretty tight race not too long ago, the Oklahoma City Thunder enjoyed a very strong finish to get the number one seed in the Western Conference with two losses less than the San Antonio Spurs, who can now rest their players heading into the final days of the season, hoping it does some good with the Playoffs beginning next weekend. Same goes for the number 2 race in the East, which has overwhelmingly went the way of the New York Knicks and their incredible season finish.
Eastern Battles Left to Fight – Bulls & Hawks
Everything is set in the Eastern conference – The Miami Heat will play the Milwaukee Bucks, the New York Knicks will play the Boston Celtics, the Indiana Pacers will finish third and the Brooklyn Nets are fourth. The only seeding left to hand out are 5-6, with the Chicago Bulls and the Atlanta Hawks entering the final day of the season with an identical 44-37 records, thanks to the Hawks blowing an “Easy” one at home against the Raptors.
Now, the Bulls, who own the tiebreak advantage, only need to win at home against a slipping Washington Wizards team, a team they’ve lost to twice this season. The Hawks travel to New York, who will probably be resting most of their players, but unless the Bulls lose, a win by Atlanta won’t improve their standing, and send them to play against the Pacers while the Bulls get paired up with the Nets.
A much busier conference, with everything from the third seed and downwards up for grabs. Lets being with the isolated scenario of the 3-4-5 positions between the Clippers, Nuggets and Grizzlies. Denver currently hold the record advantage, one game ahead of both teams, and playing the Phoenix Suns. Denver need to win in order to secure the third place in the playoffs. The Clippers, who hold the tiebreak advantage over both teams, can finish third only if they beat the Kings while Denver loses to Phoenix. Memphis can’t finish any higher than fourth, even if they win against the Jazz while both the Clippers and the Nuggets lose. The Clippers can’t finish lower than fourth, but a loss to Sacramento and a win for the Grizzlies means Memphis will have home court advantage.
Before we get to the final ticket left, things are surprisingly open for the sixth seed in the West, currently occupied by the Golden State Warriors (46-35), leading the Rockets by one game (45-36) and the Los Angeles Lakers by two (44-37). The Lakers can’t finish higher than 7th, but if they beat the Houston Rockets in a direct encounter, they’ll finish seventh while the Rockets drop to 8th and play the Thunder in the first round. The Warriors will finish sixth if they win in Portland, while the Rockets will finish sixth if Golden State loses and themselves beat the Lakers.
For the final 8th ticket, it’s pretty simple. The Utah Jazz have to beat the Memphis Grizzlies and the Houston Rockets to beat the Los Angeles Lakers to get in. Any other combination means the Lakers make the postseason while the Jazz are left out.