NBA Playoff Picture: Hawks, Rockets Crumble

A full day of NBA action on Sunday wrapped with some expected results (wins for the Heat, Celtics and Lakers) and some straight-up disasters (Hawks! Grizzlies!). Check out the impact of the results on the playoff races after the jump.

We'll go from the top down, starting in the East.

The Bulls and Heat both won, keeping Chicago's margin at a robust 3.5 games in the race for the No. 1 seed. Three more combined Chicago wins and Miami losses will officially lock up the East No. 1 for the Bulls.

Despite leaving Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen at home, the Celtics beat the Charlotte Bobcats by double digits. These are the Bobcats: losing to dilapidated teams by double digits at home. Philadelphia was inactive, and the Knicks were Miami's victim. The result of all of that is that Boston is now up four games in the Atlantic on Philly and 4.5 games up on New York. Three more wins will get the Celtics the Atlantic and No. 4 seed.

The Hawks got blown out at home by the Raptors(!), allowing the Celtics to take a one-game lead for true No. 4. If the playoffs began on Monday, the C's would have home court advantage in the first round against Atlanta.

The Magic won, guaranteeing a playoff bid and knotting them up with Atlanta in the standings. The Hawks still have the tiebreaker.

As noted, the 76ers' inactivity and Knicks' loss moved New York to a half-game below Philly for No. 7. The Bucks took a breather, and trail the Knicks by two full games plus a tiebreaker.

Here's a look at the East bracket:

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

In the East, the action began in the race for the No. 3 seed, as the Lakers picked up a win to move to 1.5 games clear of the Clippers. The Grizzlies, who entered the day 1.5 games behind the Clips for No. 4, suffered a loss to the Hornets, so their gap is now two games. But the Mavericks couldn't make up any ground due to a loss to the Lakers; Dallas is 1.5 games behind the Grizz for No. 5.

In Sunday's second huge Western showdown, the Nuggets obliterated the Rockets to take a one-game lead in the race for No. 7. This race is really all about staving off the undead advances of the Suns and Jazz. Phoenix is now within a game of Houston's No. 8 seed, and Utah is a half-game further back. But there's a chance for the Rockets to get back at the Nuggets quickly: the teams finish their home-and-home on Monday in Houston.

The Suns and Jazz were inactive on Sunday.

Here's the West bracket as of right this second.

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

Check back at noon ET for Scott Schroeder's rundown of the most impactful games on Monday's schedule.

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