NBA Playoff Picture: Rockets' Heartbreak Puts Suns, Jazz On The Spot

The NBA Playoff picture is still quite cloudy with not a lot of games left in the regular season and, in a move that wasn't exactly surprising, the 11 games that took place to start the week on Monday evening didn't exactly help clear anything up. Teams were jostled a bit in the standings, of course, but it seems that this year's race will go down to the wire.

The enormous consequences of the evening's games were run down on Monday afternoon and, unfortunately for the Houston Rockets, they suffered the worst defeat of the evening as far as games with playoff implications were concerned. The Rockets nearly pulled off a comeback against the Denver Nuggets, but Ty Lawson hit a dagger three-pointer and Luis Scola couldn't convert on a post-up attempt while attempting to stave off a 105-102 defeat.

With the loss, the Rockets fell into a tie with the Phoenix Suns for the last playoff spot in the Western Conference -- a bad spot to be considering the Suns would make the postseason if the season ended today as they hold the tiebreaker over Houston.

Houston's heart-breaking defeat also kept the Utah Jazz alive in the West despite the fact that they currently find themselves in 10th place in the standings. Houston's defeat, coupled with a marvelous triple-overtime victory over the Dallas Mavericks, has moved Utah within just half of a game between between being in or out of the playoffs ... a solid position considering where they were just one week ago.

In a cruel twist of fate, the Jazz win coupled with a Portland Trail Blazers loss to the Suns, has now officially eliminated the Blazers from playoff contention. That leaves five teams fighting for what looks to be about three playoff spots in the Western Conference.

The top of the West was also jostled a bit on Monday night, too, as the San Antonio Spurs have moved up to the top spot in the West thanks to their victory over the Golden State warriors and an Oklahoma City Thunder loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.

As it currently stands, the Western Conference's current playoff bracket looks as such:

San Antonio Spurs (1) vs. Phoenix Suns (8)
Oklahoma City Thunder (2) vs. Dallas Mavericks (7)
Los Angeles Lakers (3) vs. Denver Nuggets (6)
Los Angeles Clippers (4) vs. Grizzlies (5)

On the other side of the bracket, the Philadelphia 76ers suffered a bad loss to the Dwight Howard-less Orlando Magic on Monday night. The loss dropped the Sixers to the bottom of the Eastern Conference. Philly is still two games ahead of the ninth-seed Milwaukee Bucks, but the Sixers would have been sitting much prettier with a win to open the week.

Considering the rest of the East teams that could have an impact on the bottom of the East's bracket were idle on Monday night, the East's bracket doesn't look all that different following the evening's action.

Chicago Bulls (1) vs. Philadelphia 76ers (8)
Miami Heat (2) vs. New York Knicks (7)
Indiana Pacers (3) vs. Orlando Magic (6)
Boston Celtics (4) vs. Atlanta Hawks (5)

We'll have a look at the Enormous Consequences for Tuesday night's games a little while later.

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