NBA Playoff Picture: Rockets Do Themselves No Favor

The Houston Rockets were finally starting to look like a solid playoff team despite long absences for Kyle Lowry and Kevin Martin. The Utah Jazz were slipping, following the lead of the Minnesota Timberwolves, Portland Trail Blazers and Phoenix Suns. With a win over the Indiana Pacers on Sunday, Houston would have opened up a two-game lead on Utah.

But the Pacers picked up the overtime win, and the Rockets' lead is just one game. Welp.

Below the jump, we break down all of the playoff impacts of Sunday's results.

EASTERN ARMS RACE

The Bulls lost, but so did the Heat, so Chicago maintains a 3.5-game lead.

ATLANTIC ARMS RACE

Boston beat the Heat, giving the Celtics a one-game lead over the idle 76ers. New York was also idle, and sits 3.5 games behind the C's.

EASTERN MESS

The Magic lost, but remain in the No. 3 spot by a half-game margin over Indiana, who won. Atlanta was idle, and sits a game behind Indiana and a game ahead of Philadelphia. Milwaukee did not play, and remains 2.5 games behind the Knicks.

EASTERN BRACKET

As of Monday, here's what the East bracket would look like:

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

* Pacers would have home court advantage due to a better record.

WESTERN ARMS RACE

Oklahoma City throttled the Bulls, but it still only counts as one game in the standings. So the Thunder move to three games ahead of the idle Spurs.

BATTLE OF L.A.

The Lakers edged the Warriors, giving them a 1.5-game lead over the idle Clippers.

CLIMBING ABOARD THE GOOD SHIP PLAYOFFS

The Nuggets edged the Magic, which allowed Denver to feel more secure in the No. 7 seed as they now sit two games ahead of No. 9 Utah. The Rockets, as described above, had a similar opportunity but lost to Indiana at home. That puts the Rockets in No. 8 by a one-game margin.

CLINGING TO LIFE

The Suns and Blazers each won. Phoenix is only 1.5 games out of No. 8. Portland is three games out. Minnesota lost to Portland, and is 3.5 games out with three teams in the way.

WESTERN BRACKET

Here's what the West playoffs would look like if the season ended all of a sudden ...

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

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