Bulls a step closer to Brooklyn
With just two playoffs seeds still to be decided in the East, Atlanta controlled its own destiny. And the Hawks seem perfectly content to concede the No. 5 spot to the Bulls.
The Hawks were drilled at home by Toronto 113-96 on Tuesday. The Bulls can clinch the No. 5 seed and a first-round matchup with the Brooklyn Nets by beating Washington at the United Center on Wednesday.
The only way the Bulls won't get fifth is if they lose to the Wizards, while Atlanta wins at New York. The Bulls went 3-1 against Brooklyn this season. Game 1 will be either Saturday or Sunday.
The East playoff pairings are just about set, but there will be some suspense out West on Wednesday. Oklahoma City will be No. 1 and San Antonio is No. 2. The other slots are all still undecided. These are the meaningful games:
Utah at Memphis
Phoenix at Denver
Houston at Lakers
Golden State at Portland
Clippers at Sacramento
A win by Denver clinches the No. 3 seed. If the Nuggets lose, the Clippers could move up to No. 3 with a victory.
Otherwise, the 4 vs. 5 matchup will be the Clippers against Memphis. The Grizzlies could grab home-court advantage in that series if they win while the Clippers lose.
If the Lakers beat Houston, Golden State will be No. 6, the Lakers No. 7 and Houston No. 8.
If the Rockets beat the Lakers, Houston could end up sixth if Golden State loses. Also, a Utah win combined with a Lakers loss would give the No. 8 spot to the Jazz, with the Lakers missing the postseason altogether.