NBA Previews: April 11th, 2014

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Tonight shall be known as Clinch Night around the Association.

Here are the games, with playoff permutations (or none, in some cases. Sorry Cleveland-Milwaukee) for both teams.

Washington Wizards at Orlando Magic
Tip: 7pm ET, Amway Center, Orlando FL

The Wizards were closing in on the sixth seed and then decided to give it away by losing a game – and the tie-breaker – to the Charlotte Bobcats. Their destiny is out of their hands, though they cannot fall out of the seventh seed.

Orlando was never seeking a return to the playoffs, instead prioritizing losing this season. Expect that to continue.

New York Knicks at Toronto Raptors
Tip: 7pm ET, Air Canada Center, Toronto ON

This is the game for the Knicks. A loss tonight and a Hawks win eliminates them from the playoffs Mike Woodson today said this season would be different if Andrea Bargnani were healthy. If by “different” he meant worse, he’s right. The Knicks were 2.3 points per 100 possessions worse offensively and 2.2 points per 100 possessions worse defensively with Bargnani on the court.

The Raptors can clinch the Atlantic Division and with it homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs with a win (or Brooklyn loss).

Charlotte Bobcats at Boston Celtics
Tip: 7:30pm, TD Garden, Boston MA

Charlotte needs to avoid the slump after doing great work to move into the sixth seed. This team won just 10.6 percent of it’s games in 2011-12 and is now in the playoffs. Progress in our time.

Boston is looking for ping-pong balls and Rajon Rondo is openly wondering what the roster will look like next season. Welcome to your summer of discontent, Boston.

Atlanta Hawks at Brooklyn Nets
Tip: 7:30pm ET, Barclays Center, Brooklyn NY

Another big game in the Eastern Conference tonight. As mentioned, a Hawks win and Knicks loss clinches eighth for Atlanta. A Brooklyn win coupled with both Charlotte and Washington losing to Boston and Orlando would lock them into the fifth seed. So they definitely won’t be locked into the fifth seed after tonight.

Indiana Pacers at Miami Heat
Tip: 7:30pm ET, American Airlines Arena, Miami FL

The game of the night. The two best teams in the East and probable Eastern Conference Finals preview. This game ultimately decides the number one seed:

An Indiana win keeps them ahead and ties the season series, moving the tiebreaker to conference record, which the Pacers cannot be caught in without Miami finishing with a better record. A Miami win gives them a half-game lead and the tiebreaker.

BREAKING: Dwyane Wade is OUT, per reports. Would be ninth straight game missed.

Detroit Pistons at Chicago Bulls
Tip: 8pm ET, United Center, Chicago IL

The Bulls can clinch no worse than fourth (and homecourt advantage in the first round) with a win or Brooklyn loss. They’re playing the Pistons, who are quite simply woeful right now. The Bulls are the hottest team in the league with six straight wins.

Philadelphia 76ers at Memphis Grizzlies
Tip: 8pm ET, FedExForum, Memphis TN

Memphis is part of that triple-threat match for the final two berths in the West. Philadelphia is shooting for a 65-loss season. Memphis needs a win, especially with Phoenix taking on the Spurs tonight and Dallas losing last night.

Houston Rockets at Minnesota Timberwolves
Tip: 8pm ET, Target Center, Minneapolis MN

Houston still need a combination of two wins/Portland losses to lock up the fourth seed and are 2.5 games back on the Clippers for third, so are unlikely to move anywhere.

New Orleans Pelicans at Oklahoma City Thunder
Tip: 8pm ET, Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK

The Pelicans will be without Anthony Davis, Eric Gordon and Jrue Holiday. The Thunder need a win to clinch the second seed and with it homecourt advantage in the second round of the playoffs.

Cleveland Cavaliers at Milwaukee Bucks
Tip: 8:30pm ET, BMO Harris Bank Center, Milwaukee WI

Please, do not watch this game tonight. Watch a film, see some family. Or watch one of the other 12 games with playoff implications tonight.

The Bucks can wrap up the worst record in the league and top lottery odds with a loss tonight.

Phoenix Suns at San Antonio Spurs
Tip: 8:30pm ET, AT&T Center, San Antonio TX

The Suns meet the Spurs, who are playing on the second night of a back-to-back. Tony Parker has sat out the last few games and Gregg Popovich will probably sit Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobilli right next to him.

The Suns control their own destiny for the seventh seed despite being read their Last Rites two weeks ago. Bizarrely, Phoenix can tie the Golden State Warriors for the sixth seed with a win and Warriors loss tonight.

Portland Trail Blazers at Utah Jazz
Tip: 9pm ET, EnergySolutions Arena, Salt Lake City, UT

Portland is on it’s own in the fifth seed but still needs to keep their wits about them – a Golden State burst coupled with a losing streak could cost them the fifth seed.

Golden State Warriors at Los Angeles Lakers
Tip: 10:30pm ET, Staples Center, Los Angeles CA

The Warriors lost at the buzzer last night and now are one losing streak away from missing the playoffs. A win tonight clinches the playoffs, which would make everyone feel better.

A loss combined with a Phoenix win ties Phoenix for the sixth seed and sets alarm bells ringing considering the Lakers are on course for their worst season in franchise history.

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