NBA Playoff Picture: Atlantic Race Cinches Up

The NBA held just four games on Thursday, but two of them served to tighten up the Atlantic Division race. Take a look at the impacts below the jump.

The Celtics fell to the Bulls, dropping Boston to 30-24. They maintain a one game lead in the Atlantic over the Philadelphia 76ers, who were idle on Thursday. Remember: The Atlantic winner will be seeded no worse than No. 4, but isn't guaranteed home court advantage in the first round. It continues to appear as if the second-place team in the Atlantic will draw the Miami Heat in the first round, so winning the division is huge.

The New York Knicks won to move to 28-27, but are still 2.5 games behind Boston in the division. The win did give the Knicks a 1.5-game lead over the Milwaukee Bucks for the No. 8 seed.

The Knicks' victim was the Orlando Magic, who earlier this week lost its grip on the No. 3 seed. Thursday's loss dropped Orlando further, to the No. 6 seed. Orlando is tied with Atlanta in the standings at 32-23, but the Hawks have the tiebreaker. If the season ended today, Atlanta would have home court against Boston while Orlando would not against Indiana.

There was only one game for the Western Conference, as the L.A. Clippers beat the Sacramento Kings. The Clips are now two games behind the Lakers for the No. 3 seed, but the Lakers do have a tiebreaker, so that's effectively a three-game gap. The Clips are two full games ahead of Memphis and Dallas.

There's lots of action with playoff implications on Friday. Be sure to check back at noon ET when Scott Schroeder will have Friday's Enormous Consequences available.

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