It’s a slow night in the NBA, made a little bit slower by the fact the league has rightfully cancelled Indiana’s game in Boston Tuesday night in the wake of the tragedy at the end of the Boston Marathon.
But that game wouldn’t impact the standings — the Pacers are locked in as the three seed in the East, the Celtics are locked in as the seven seed (and will face the Knicks in a fun first round matchup).
But the other two games will have some impact. Here’s the deal:
• Raptors at Hawks (8 p.m. ET): The Hawks are currently the five seed in the East and need to win this game to maintain that spot. Lose and they fall into a tie with the Bulls — and Chicago has the tiebreaker having won the season series so the Hawks become the six seed. Atlanta needs to beat Toronto Tuesday and the Knicks Wednesday to hold on to that five seed (or they need the Bulls to lose to the Wizards on Wednesday).
The five seed team will face the Nets in the first round, the six seed team gets the Pacers.
• Trail Blazers at Clippers (10:30 ET): The Clippers still have a shot at the three seed but they need to win this game, then they need to beat the Kings on Wednesday and they would need Denver to lose on Wednesday at home to the Suns. Bottom line, it’s a long shot but the Nuggets could get the three.
The more likely concern is home court in the first round if the Clippers face the Grizzlies in a rematch of a first round series from last year. If the Clippers win their remaining two games they get home court. If they lose Tuesday to Portland (or to Sacramento Wednesday) then the Grizzlies can secure home court by beating the Jazz on Wednesday.
(And yes, the Clippers can be the four seed and still be the road team in the first round. NBA rules state that because the Clippers won the Pacific Division they can fall no lower than the four seed, but that if the fifth seed team has a better record the five seed gets home court. To answer your next question, I have no idea why. The league should just take the team with the eight best records in order, everybody in the West plays the same schedule anyway. But those are the rules, live with them.)