1. Boston loses to Indiana, 107-100, leaving the Celts in a tie with Miami for second place.
2. Chicago falls at home to Philadelphia, 97-85, dropping a half-game to idle Miami.
3. New York defeats Orlando at home, 113-106 in overtime, solidifying the Knicks’ playoff position.
1. San Antonio, playing without Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, and Tim Duncan, drops its second straight to Portland and fourth overall, weakening its lead on the top spot, where they have a 3.5 game lead over Los Angeles.
1. Miami heads to Cleveland for its second game at Quicken Loans Arena with a chance to take a half-game lead over Boston for second place and home-court advantage in the second round.
2. Oklahoma City hosts Golden State and Monta Ellis. A victory puts the Thunder three games behind Dallas for third place, and, more importantly, strengthens its hold over Denver for fourth place and home-court advantage in round one.
3. Phoenix and Houston continue their struggle to earn a playoff spot when each team travels to play cellar dwellers Sacramento and New Jersey. Yes, the Nets are in the cellar with Toronto.
1. Miami is quietly climbing the top of the standings, sitting two games away from the number 1 seed. The Bulls hold the tie-breaker, meaning the Heat need Chicago to finish no better than 6-3 while finishing 9-0 themselves. That’s probably not going to happen, although the schedule is favorable for Miami. The Heat, however, control their own destiny for the second seed, thanks to Boston’s collapse over the past few games. Miami hosts Boston April 10th in a game that could settle the final standings while allowing the Heat to erase the Celtic’s mental hold over their younger counterpart.
2. San Antonio, like Boston, has struggled recently, losing four in row. The Spurs have been without the services of Tim Duncan for essentially five games and last night’s defeat saw each of the big 3 sidelined. San Antonio’s tenuous lead over the Lakers should be safe, but the Spurs and Celts cannot be comfortable heading into the postseason. The problem for the rest of league? If any two teams can turn the switch on come playoff time, it is these two teams.
3. New York’s win over Orlando allows the Knicks to remove the gorilla sized monkey off their back while gaining the slight momentum needed by any contending NBA team to right the ship. The Knicks are the ultimate wild-card this summer. While they struggle against the lower-level teams, the Knicks compete fairly well versus the teams they will likely face in the playoffs, even if they haven’t been victorious lately, as evidence by their 1-10 record entering last night. If the playoffs started today, New York would face Boston. Would anyone be too surprised if the Knicks found a way to beat the Celtics? Neither would I.