Only six teams played on Thursday night in the NBA, but the results of those three games still managed to shake up the playoff picture in each conference. The Denver Nuggets picked up an important win over the Dallas Mavericks, courtesy of a game-winning drive and layup by Andre Iguodala. The win moved Denver two games ahead of the Clippers for the No. 3 seed, and Denver is guaranteed a top-four finish.
However, the team's path to the NBA Finals just got harder. Danilo Gallinari suffered a left knee injury in the game and team doctors fear it is a torn ACL. Nuggets blog Denver Stiffs has more information on the tiebreakers out West.
The Oklahoma City Thunder made the biggest move of the night, as they dismantled the San Antonio Spurs and positioned themselves for a legitimate run at the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference. OKC dominated the Spurs for the better part of four quarters and moved within a half-game of San Antonio for the top spot in the West.
Even better for the Thunder, they improved their advantage in the secondary tiebreaker race by notching another conference win. If they tie the Spurs' record at the end of the year, they will be the top seed. An extra home game in the playoffs could turn out to be a huge advantage, considering the Thunder are 33-5 at home this year and other rivals like the Spurs and Nuggets are similarly dominant on their home floor.
The Bulls helped their cause in two ways: (1) they picked up a win to move them back into the No. 5 seed in the East, thanks to a tiebreaker advantage over the Atlanta Hawks, and (2) they beat the No. 4 seed Brooklyn Nets to do it, which pulled the Nets within reach (1.5 games up) in the standings. The Bulls and Hawks now have an opportunity to chase the Nets for home-court advantage in the opening round of the playoffs. That race should be interesting to watch down the stretch.
|San Antonio Spurs||76||56-20||.737|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||75||55-20||.733|
|Los Angeles Clippers||76||50-26||.658|
|Golden State Warriors||75||43-32||.573|
|Los Angeles Lakers||75||39-36||.520|
|Portland Trail Blazers||75||33-42||.440|
|New Orleans Hornets||75||26-49||.347|
|New York Knicks||74||48-26||.649|