Western Conference Playoff Thread - I Guess We Can Hope

Apr 21, 2012; Memphis, TN, USA; Memphis Grizzlies small forward Rudy Gay (22) dribbles the ball up the court during the second half against the Portland Trail Blazers at the FedEx Forum. Memphis Grizzlies defeat the Portland Trail Blazers 93-89. Mandatory Credit: Spruce Derden-US PRESSWIRE

There's one game that has a direct impact on the Clippers tonight, but it's probably not going to end well. The Grizzlies are hosting the Magic (in a game that is not televised, unfortunately, though I'm sure TNT would much rather show that one than the Knicks-Bobcats suckfest that is scheduled). We already know that the Clippers and Grizzlies will be meeting each other in the first round -- we just don't know where the series will start or who will have home court advantage. If the Grizzlies lose to the Magic, then Memphis will be heading West on Sunday. If Memphis wins, then the Clippers will be off to Tennessee.

Orlando is playing without Dwight Howard who had back surgery a week ago and is done for the season. The Magic have also been missing Hedo Turkoglu, though he could be back tonight. Orlando has been pretty terrible since Howard has been out: they are 5-8 in April without Howard, and 5-10 in the 15 games since the Howard-wants-SVG-fired kerfuffle went public.

But it gets worse. Ryan Anderson and Jameer Nelson and the others might actually have it in them to win this game IF it meant anything to the Magic. But Orlando is locked into the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference, and other than the idea of going into the playoffs on a winning note, there's really not much to play for. Still, stranger things have happened. Maybe the Grizzlies will assume they've got it sewn up and come out flat.

The sixth and seventh seeds are yet to be determined in the West as well. If Denver beats Minnesota tonight then the Nuggets will be the sixth seed and face the Lakers. If Denver loses and Dallas beats Atlanta, then Dallas moves up to six. Count on Denver six, Dallas seven, as Minnesota has a total of one win over their last three Aprils. None of this matters a bit to the Clippers, as both teams will be on the other side of the playoff bracket regardless. The Clippers would face the first seed (Spurs) or the eighth seed (Jazz) in the second round if they get past the Grizzlies.

In the east, the host of the first round series between Atlanta and Boston will be determined tonight. If Atlanta beats Dallas, they'll have home court advantage, but if Atlanta loses and Boston beats Milwaukee, then they'll switch. Coincidentally, the host of the four-five series is coming down to the last game in both conferences.

The only other spot to be determined is the seven-eight order in the East. New York and Philadelphia are currently tied -- and there are no bargains regardless, with Chicago and Miami looming as the first round opponents. new York owns the tie breaker and would seem pretty clearly a lock for the seventh seed and a date with Miami, since the Knicks are playing the Bobcats tonight. Charlotte has lost 22 in a row, and can become the worst team in NBA history (by winning percentage) with a loss tonight. New York will no doubt rest everyone -- but do they want to be the team that finally lost to Charlotte? We'll see.

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