A bunch of games on Sunday could have a big impact on playoff seedings — and for the Lakers and Jazz, who makes the playoffs. Let’s take a quick look around the league at what is at stake.
The big game is Pacers visiting the Knicks — the Knicks win and they lock up the two seed in the East. That’s huge. The Knicks may not have won a playoff series since 2001 but expectations are they win more than one this time. The Pacers will not be an easy out in the second round so having home court would be huge. The Knicks have a three-game lead over the Pacers so they likely get home court anyway, but this win would make a nice statement.
If the Pacers lose and the Nets can beat the Raptors, then Pacers will have a new problem — Brooklyn will be one-game back of Indiana for the three seed. The four seed gets the Heat in the second round and maybe the Bulls in the first round. You’d like to avoid that difficult path.
Chicago faces a Miami team playing it’s big three, but the Bulls need the win to get back into the fifth seed in the East (they would be tied with the Hawks).
Kobe or no Kobe, the Lakers control their own destiny — win their final two games and they are in the playoffs. But on Sunday night they play a Spurs team that is still fighting for the top seed in the West. A Lakers loss and Utah can retake the eighth seed Monday night. A Spurs loss and they are not going to catch the Thunder (they would be one game back and OKC has the tiebreaker).
Denver will host Portland and with a win the Nuggets will be on the verge of locking up the three seed and holding off the Clippers and Grizzlies. Home court means more to Denver than maybe any team in the NBA.
Houston controls its own destiny, it can be the six seed in the West if they win out — that starts with beating the Kings on Sunday. Honestly, I am rooting for this because and Houston vs. Denver 3/6 matchup in the first round — two teams that want to run — might be the most entertaining series of the playoffs.