NBA Playoff Picture: Clippers, Mavericks Take Steps Toward Safety

Four games on Thursday's small NBA slate had playoff implications. We break down the results after the jump.

The East had one game of consequence, and it was a doozy. The Bulls overcame the Heat (again) to all but lock up the No. 1 seed in the East. The win put Chicago an insurmountable four games ahead of Miami. The Bulls are also now 2.5 games ahead of the Thunder for the NBA's best overall record; Chicago had that honor last year, as well.

Three games jostled the West playoff bracket. Toward the top, the Clippers managed to handle the Minnesota Timberwolves to extend L.A.'s spread over the Memphis Grizzlies for the No. 4 seed. Also helping that spread: the San Antonio Spurs punking down Memphis. The Clippers now have a 1.5-game lead on the Grizz and trail the Lakers by one game and a tiebreaker.

The Spurs pulled to within a half-game of Oklahoma City with their win.

The Mavericks held off the Warriors to jostle free from the pack further down the bracket. Dallas now holds No. 6 by half of a game over the Rockets and Nuggets. Keep in mind that Dallas also has tiebreakers over all of its rivals in that zone. The Mavs trailed the Grizzlies by 1.5 games for No. 5.

Here's a look at the brackets as of Friday morning. First the East:

Bulls (1) vs. Knicks (8)
Heat (2) vs. Sixers (7)
Pacers (3) vs. Magic (6)
Celtics (4) vs. Hawks (5)

And the West:

Thunder (1) vs. Rockets (8)
Spurs (2) vs. Nuggets (7)
Lakers (3) vs. Mavericks (6)
Clippers (4) vs. Grizzlies (5)

Check back for Scott Schroeder's Enormous Consequences at noon ET.

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