The NBA games that mattered to the playoff situation for the Los Angeles Clippers all came down to the wire tonight -- unfortunately, the wire came two and a half hours earlier for all but the Clippers game, so it was actually decided before they ever tipped off in Portland.
The Pistons led all night in Oklahoma City, but Kevin Durant gave the Thunder a one point lead in the final seconds and Detroit failed to get off a final shot (they failed to get off a shot for multiple possessions at the end in fact). I almost have it in me to be upset that the officials didn't give Jonas Jerebko a timeout as he struggled for a loose ball -- timeouts have certainly been awarded in more less clear possession situations than that -- but seeing the Thunder look so beatable in an important game is consolation enough.
Memphis and Dallas went into overtime in Memphis, where Mike Conley made two free throws in the final seconds before Monta Ellis' desperation shot came up just short at the buzzer.
Had the Pistons and Mavs held on, and the Clippers beaten Portland. then the Clippers would be the second seed, opening against the Mavericks.
Had the Pistons held on but the Grizzlies won as they did, then a win would have given the Clippers the second seed and another date with Memphis.
Instead, OKC won, the Clippers lost their meaningless game despite a stirring comeback, and LA will open the playoffs against the Golden State Warriors -- as we've suspected for awhile now.
A night like this puts me in mind of the World Cup, in which FIFA schedules the final games of group play to be played simultaneously -- they don't want the outcome of one game affecting the strategy in another. Most of the games on the final night of an NBA season are meaningless -- but a few really matter. How much more interesting would it have been tonight if all three of those games were ending more or less simultaneously? I don't expect that the NBA will change the schedule to have all 15 games on closing day next year start at 6:30 PM Pacific -- but maybe they should. It could make for some pretty compelling drama.