NBA Draft Lottery 101: The primer

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Tomorrow night, Secaucus is the place to be.

Okay, Secaucus, New Jersey, is never THE place to be. Better to be down in Orlando, where the Eastern Conference Finals are taking place, for example. But some team will leave Secaucus Tuesday night thinking they are on the path to the Finals after they win the NBA Draft Lottery because they are going to draft John Wall.

The lottery is a pretty simple process that the NBA has made amazingly complex. Here’s how it works.

The crappier your team was during the regular season, the better their chances of winning the top pick. Nobody was as crappy as the Nets, although Minnesota tried to make a run at it for a while. So here are how the odds of winning break out.

1. New Jersey Nets – 25.0%
2. Minnesota Timberwolves – 19.9%
3. Sacramento Kings – 15.6%
4. Golden State Warriors – 10.4%
5. Washington Wizards – 10.3%
6. Philadelphia 76ers – 5.3%
7. Detroit Pistons – 5.3%
8. Los Angeles Clippers – 2.2%
9. Utah Jazz (from NY Knicks) – 2.2%
10. Indiana Pacers – 1.1%
11. New Orleans Hornets – 0.8%
12. Memphis Grizzlies – 0.7%
13. Toronto Raptors – 0.6%
14. Houston Rockets 0.5%

(These numbers have been updated and corrected to current odds.)

The Bucks draft 15th and from there it simply follows order of best record through the playoff teams. And yes, you see that right, the Isiah Thomas traded away this Knicks pick a few years back. He is the gift that keeps on giving.

When a team like the Nets is losing, the common expression is they are getting more ping-pong balls in the hopper. Not exactly.

There are just 14 ping-pong balls in the hopper, in the lottery machine. That gives you thousands of possible number combinations (1, 2, 3, 4 then 1, 2, 3, 5 and so on and so on). The Nets have a big sheet of paper where they get 25 percent of those combinations. The Timberwolves 19.9 percent, and so on.

So with a representative of each team in the room, a four number combination is drawn from the machine. Whatever team has that combo wins the lottery. Then all the numbers go back in, and four new numbers are drawn, that team is second. Then it happens a third time.

After the top three, the draft lottery will follow the record order listed above. So, for example, the Nets can pick no worse than fourth, if there other teams are selected above them.

Those team representatives in the room are sworn to secrecy, and they have to be different than the person on stage for the team. The person representing the team on the broadcast has no idea what the outcome is.

Well, they know the team with the top pick will take Wall. They just don’t know who that will be.

Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook go head-to-head, literally (video)

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This sure didn’t look like just another game for Kevin Durant – and not only because the Thunder beat the Warriors for the first time since he left.

The 108-91 Oklahoma City victory didn’t look like just another game for Russell Westbrook (34 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists and four steals), either.

Harrison Barnes banks in game-winning, buzzer-beating 3-pointer (video)

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With the shot clock off in the fourth quarter and the game tied, Grizzlies big JaMychal Green put back Tyreke Evans‘ miss with a clutch flush. There’s a very fine line between ensuring the last shot and leaving time for an offensive rebound, and Memphis threated it almost perfectly.

Emphasis on “almost.”

The Grizzlies left the Mavericks 0.5 seconds, which Harrison Barnes used to bank in a 3-pointer – off a pinpoint bounce pass by Dennis Smith Jr. – to give Dallas a 95-94 win.

Heat snap Celtics’ 16-game winning streak

AP Photo/Lynne Sladky
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The Celtics didn’t have another comeback in them.

After overcoming a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit against the Mavericks on Monday to extend its winning streak to 16 games, Boston lost to the Heat tonight, 104-98. The streak ends as the NBA’s longest since the Hawks won 19 straight during the 2014-15 season.

The Celtics trailed Miami by 16 in the fourth quarter then cut the deficit to only one with three minutes left. But Dion Waiters hit back-to-back 3-pointers, helping the Heat pull away.

Goran Dragic (27 points) and Waiters (26 points) led Miami, which needed a reason to feel good after losing three of four to fall to 7-9.

The Celtics, on the other hand, still have a four-game cushion over the rest of the Eastern Conference. This might help them regain focus.

Serge Ibaka gets dunked on by Enes Kanter, hit in face by ball (video)

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Is Enes Kanter mad Serge Ibaka rifted with his family?

(No, not this family. That family.)