Here is what we know:
• All 16 teams that will be going to the playoffs. With Memphis beating a resilient Suns team on the field is set in both the East and West.
• Indiana (1) vs. Atlanta (8). With the Heat resting LeBron James and Chris Bosh then promptly losing to the Wizards the top two spots in the East are set. The Hawks were already locked into the 8 seed. This is great for Indiana in the same way Florida State’s football home opener is against the Citadel — it’s a tune up round where they can work out the kinks.
• Houston Rockets (4) vs. Portland Trail Blazers (5). Out west the middle of the field is set (as are the Spurs in the top slot), but everything else is up for grabs. This is a pretty interesting series. Can Portland slow the James Harden train with Nicolas Batum? Do you play more Jeremy Lin to exploit the “defense” of Damian Lillard or do you need Patrick Beverley on the court to try and slow Lillard on offense? How does Houston match up with LaMarcus Aldridge?
Aside that, pretty much everything is still up in the air.
In the East, Monday night’s win by the Wizards over the Heat not only set Miami as the second seed, it kept the dream of the Wizards slim chance of getting to the five seed alive. That Wizards win also kept Charlotte one game back in the battle not to be the seven seed and avoiding Miami in the first round. If the Wizards beat Boston on Wednesday they can finish no lower than 6th. The Bulls and Raptors both won on Monday keeping Toronto as the three seed. If Toronto beats the Knicks on Wednesday they are the three seed, if they lose and Chicago beats Charlotte then the Bulls are the three seed.
Out West, the Clippers slim hopes of the two seed are alive but they need to win their last two games then hope Oklahoma City loses to Detroit on Wednesday. Good luck with that. Locked in out West are the Spurs at No. 1, the Rockets at No. 4, the Trail Blazers at No. 6 and the Warriors at No. 6. Winner of the Dallas/Memphis game Wednesday is No. 7, loser is No. 8.
There are just two games on Tuesday night’s board but both have playoff Implications.
If the Nets beat the Knicks, the Nets become locked in as the five seed in the East.
If the Clippers beat the Nuggets, their slim hopes of being the two seed are still alive, lose and they are locked in as the three.
Why did Robin Lopez tie Jae Crowder‘s shoe during Sunday’s Game 4 between the Boston Celtics and Chicago Bulls? We may never know. Perhaps he was just helping the Celtics forward after he tossed him to the ground? Or maybe he’s just doing weird Robin Lopez things?
In any case, Lopez helpfully stopped to tie Crowder’s shoe after it came off during a battle down low early in the third quarter at United Center.
Here’s how it went down.
I still have no idea.
The Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets played an ugly game down the stretch on Sunday. The Rockets employed a hack-a-Andre Roberson strategy, while the Thunder played sloppy and often poorly with Russell Westbrook out of the game.
The latter was the subject in question when Oklahoman reporter Berry Tramel spoke with Westbrook and Steven Adams at a postgame press conference following the Game 4 loss, 113-109.
Tramel’s question — whether the Rockets got a boost when Westbrook was off the floor — was directed at Adams, but the Thunder MVP candidate couldn’t let it go.
Snapping at Tramel, Westbrook told him not to split them up.
Tramel’s question is legitimate, and one of the overarching themes of this series thus far. Westbrook’s response is pretty far off the mark, but it did tell the story of how he’s feeling going away from Chesapeake Arena down 3-1.
Game 5 is on Tuesday in Houston.
Kevin Love and LeBron James were locked in an epic battle with the Indiana Pacers during the first half of Sunday’s Game 4 playoff matchup. Part of that matchup included yet another long, full court pass between the Cleveland Cavaliers duo.
Love, as you might guess, was the passer and LeBron was again the receiver.
The play came in the final minute of the second quarter, with Love nabbing a rebound from the right block and LeBron jetting down the floor.
Love’s pass was perfectly placed, and Paul George just didn’t have the strength to keep him from getting the and-1.
Cleveland completed the series sweep on Indiana with the win, 106-102.
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Nene scored 28 points on perfect shooting from the field, and the Houston Rockets beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 113-109 on Sunday to take a 3-1 lead in their first-round playoff series.
Nene made all 12 of his shots and had 10 rebounds. He helped the Rockets overcome an off night by James Harden, who finished with 16 points on 5-for-16 shooting.
Eric Gordon and Lou Williams each scored 18 points for the Rockets. Trevor Ariza had 14.
Game 5 is Tuesday night in Houston.
Oklahoma City star Russell Westbrook had a triple-double by halftime and finished with 35 points, 14 rebounds and 14 assists. The Thunder said Westbrook joined Wilt Chamberlain as the only players to claim three consecutive playoff triple-doubles.
Steven Adams scored 18 points and Victor Oladipo added 15 for the Thunder.
Westbrook had 17 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists at the break. He grabbed the 10th rebound in the final second of the second quarter, and the Thunder led 58-54 at intermission. Meanwhile, Harden made just 2 of 9 shots and scored just six points in the first half.
The Thunder opened the second half with a 10-2 run, but Houston closed to 77-73 at the end of the third quarter.
Adams made the first of two free throws with 21.7 seconds remaining to cut Oklahoma City’s deficit to four. He rebounded his missed second free throw and found Westbrook for a 3-pointer that cut Houston’s lead to one point. But the Thunder lost track of Nene on the other end, and he converted a three-point play. Gordon’s two free throws with 6.2 seconds made it a four-point game.
Rockets: G Patrick Beverley was fined $25,000 by the NBA for confronting a fan after Game 3. The league announced the fine about two hours before Game 4 tipped off.
Thunder: Westbrook had just one turnover in the first half. … Adams went 6 for 6 from the field in the first half. … Westbrook missed all six of his shots in the third quarter.
Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/CliffBruntAP.