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                ***** NBA Previews from The Sports Network *****
                              Wednesday, April 15
                              (All times Eastern)
 (SportsNetwork.com) - The Toronto Raptors can clinch the third seed in the
 Eastern Conference with a win on Wednesday, and some help, when they host the
 Charlotte Hornets at Air Canada Centre in the season finale.
 The Raptors are one game behind the Chicago Bulls for the third seed. If
 Toronto defeats Charlotte and the Bulls lose at home to the Eastern
 Conference-leading Atlanta Hawks, Toronto wins a tiebreaker by virtue of
 winning the Atlantic Division.
 If the Raptors lose on Wednesday, and the Bulls win, the Raptors would be the
 fourth seed and host the Washington Wizards in the first round of the
 Toronto had a three-game winning streak halted on Tuesday in a 95-93 road loss
 to the Boston Celtics.
 Jae Crowder hit the go-ahead jumper with 0.8 seconds left on the clock to give
 the C's the victory and the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference.
 Kyle Lowry tied the score for Toronto at 93-93 with 10.2 seconds left after
 driving down the lane for a left-handed layup.
 Evan Turner tried to navigate down the paint at the other end, but his runner
 was blocked by Terrence Ross and the ball went out of bounds with 3.3 ticks on
 the clock.
 Crowder then came off a screen along the right elbow and knocked down a fall-
 away jumper with a toe on the 3-point line in the right corner over Tyler
 Hansbrough and Lowry to put Boston in front.
 Lowry's 3-pointer from the left wing at the horn was swatted by Turner.
 Lowry posted 16 points, six rebounds and four assists and Lou Williams
 supplied 16 points off the bench for Toronto.
 "The way we lost tonight, we're disappointed," Toronto coach Dwane Casey said.
 Charlotte knows all about disappointment. After making the playoffs last
 season, they are lottery-bound, but injuries played a huge role. The starting
 frontline of Al Jefferson, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Cody Zeller all missed
 substantial time late in the season.
 The Hornets have lost five straight and six in a row on the road. On Monday,
 they fell at home to the Houston Rockets, 100-90.
 Brian Roberts scored a team-high 23 points, while Charlotte's starting
 backcourt of Kemba Walker and Gerald Henderson combined to shoot 3-of-20 from
 the field for six points.
 A close game turned in Houston's favor because of an 11-2 run spanning the
 third and fourth quarters. Clint Capela scored the first four points of the
 fourth to give the Rockets an 87-75 cushion, and the closest the Hornets got
 from there was nine.
 James Harden, Houston's MVP candidate, scored 29 in the win.
 "I felt like we did a pretty good job on him," Roberts said of Harden. "It's
 amazing that he has 29 (points) and it's an off night."
 The Hornets won two of three encounters this season with the Raptors and have
 won two in a row north of the border.
 (SportsNetwork.com) - Two of the Eastern Conference's elite close out the
 regular season Wednesday when the Atlanta Hawks travel to the United Center to
 meet the Chicago Bulls, but the game only means something to one of the teams.
 The Hawks wrapped up homecourt advantage in the Eastern Conference playoffs
 weeks ago, but the Bulls are playing for the third seed. If they win on
 Wednesday, and the Toronto Raptors lose at home to the Charlotte Hornets,
 they'll secure the third spot.
 Despite a one-game lead over the Raptors, any other scenario and the Bulls
 fall to fourth. Toronto owns the tiebreaker over Chicago by virtue of winning
 the Atlantic Division.
 The Bulls have won three in a row and six straight in the Windy City.
 On Monday, Chicago handed the Brooklyn Nets a critical loss in Brooklyn's
 postseason push. The Bulls prevailed, 113-86, thanks to another double-double
 by Pau Gasol.
 The big man, who signed as a free-agent in the offseason, recorded his league-
 leading 53rd double-double with 22 points and 11 rebounds. Nikola Mirotic had
 a game-high 26 points in 24 minutes off the bench for the Bulls, who also
 benefited from 13 points out of Derrick Rose.
 "Overall, we played well on both sides of the ball," said Bulls coach Tom
 Thibodeau. "We had great ball movement."
 Starting center Joakim Noah missed the game with a left hamstring injury and
 he is listed as doubtful for Wednesday.
 The Hawks have been fine-tuning things for a postseason run. They established
 a franchise record for wins in a season and have rested key pieces down the
 All of the starters, minus Paul Millsap, who is battling a shoulder injury,
 were in the lineup Monday night when the Hawks fell at home to the New York
 Knicks of all teams, 112-108.
 Jeff Teague finished with 19 points and nine assists for Atlanta, but missed a
 potential game-tying shot with 9.3 seconds remaining.
 Kyle Korver also had 19 points for the Hawks, followed by 18 from Al Horford,
 16 out of DeMarre Carroll, 12 from Shelvin Mack and 10 from Kent Bazemore.
 It was an interesting loss for a team with legitimate title aspirations, but
 no one was sweating in Atlanta.
 "I think we've put ourselves in a good position throughout the course of the
 season. A lot of positives, so we're excited (for the playoffs)," said Atlanta
 coach Mike Budenholzer.
 Of course, if the Bulls drop to four and both teams are successful in first-
 round matchups, Wednesday's contest could be a preview for a second-round
 The Hawks will go for their first season sweep of the Bulls since the 2008-09
 (SportsNetwork.com) - Two playoff-bound Eastern Conference teams square off on
 Wednesday when the Boston Celtics visit the Bradley Center to take on the
 Milwaukee Bucks in the regular-season finale for both.
 The C's secured a postseason berth Monday when the Brooklyn Nets lost to the
 Chicago Bulls. They wrapped up the seventh seed and a date with LeBron James
 and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round with their two-point win over
 the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday.
 The Bucks will be the sixth seed in the East and meet either Chicago or
 Toronto, depending on the outcome of a pair of games on Wednesday. A win on
 Wednesday would give the Bucks a .500 or better season for the first time
 since the 2009-10 campaign. Milwaukee had the worst record in the NBA last
 Boston continued its sensational second-half run in its 95-93 win over the
 Atlantic Division champs on Tuesday.
 Jae Crowder's go-ahead jumper with 0.8 seconds remaining lifted the Celtics to
 Kyle Lowry tied the score for Toronto at 93-93 with 10.2 seconds left after
 driving down the lane for a left-handed layup. Evan Turner tried to navigate
 down the paint at the other end, but his runner was blocked by Terrence Ross
 and the ball went out of bounds with 3.3 ticks on the clock.
 Crowder then came off a screen along the right elbow and knocked down a fall-
 away jumper with a toe on the 3-point line in the right corner over Tyler
 Hansbrough and Lowry to put Boston in front.
 Lowry's 3-pointer from the left wing at the horn was swatted by Turner.
 Crowder was part of the deal that sent All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo to the
 Dallas Mavericks in December. Boston was a season-worst 14 games under .500 on
 Feb. 2, but has gone 23-12 since.
 Turner finished with 14 points, nine assists and seven rebounds, Avery Bradley
 netted 14 points and Brandon Bass added 13 points and nine rebounds for the
 Celtics, who now prepare for LeBron and company.
 "To have a chance to compete against the very best in the league is a great
 opportunity," Celtics coach Brad Stevens said.
 The Bucks have won three in a row and try to continue their momentum
 Wednesday. When they toppled the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday, they secured a
 playoff spot, then Michael Carter-Williams secured some revenge.
 The reigning Rookie of the Year scored 30 points in just three quarters to
 lead Milwaukee to a 107-97 win over the Philadelphia 76ers, the team that
 traded him at the deadline.
 "I was just trying to be aggressive," Carter-Williams said. "I was able to hit
 some mid-range shots and my teammates put me in a good position."
 O.J. Mayo and Ersan Ilyasova each scored 13 points for Milwaukee, which
 trailed by as many as 14 in the first half.
 The Bucks will try for their first season sweep of the Celtics since the
 2005-06 campaign.
 (SportsNetwork.com) - The NBA is buzzing on the final day of the season.
 There is a battle for the eighth and final playoff spots in both conferences.
 The Southwest Division title and No. 2 seed in the Western Conference is up
 for grabs. The third seed in the East hasn't been determined.
 However, there are meaningless games and Wednesday's bout between the Detroit
 Pistons and New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden almost qualifies as one
 if not for the lottery implications.
 The Knicks are one game ahead of the Minnesota Timberwolves for the worst
 record in the NBA, thus, getting the most ping-pong balls in next month's
 Draft Lottery.
 If the Knicks win on Wednesday and the Timberwolves lose at home to the
 Oklahoma City Thunder, who are battling for the eighth seed in the Western
 Conference, a blind drawing would be held at the Board of Governors meeting to
 break the tie. This drawing would settle who had the extra ping-pong ball,
 plus who would receive the higher draft pick should neither team win one of
 the three coveted lottery slots.
 The Knicks did themselves no favors on Monday by going down to Atlanta and
 beating the 60-win Hawks, 112-108. Other than Paul Millsap, who is nursing a
 shoulder injury, the Hawks played their regulars.
 "I'm sure people are upset with us," Knicks head coach Derek Fisher said,
 referencing his team lessening its odds in the draft lottery. "But I don't
 think you can ever go out there and try not to play your best."
 Langston Galloway made all six of his 3-point shots and scored a career-high
 26 points to lead the Knicks. Tim Hardaway Jr. had 23 points and Jason Smith
 scored 20 with nine rebounds and five assists for the Knicks, who defeated
 Orlando on Saturday and won back-to-back games for the first time since late
 The Pistons were fringe players in the race for the eighth playoff seed, but
 have lost three of their last four. Detroit has dropped four in a row as the
 On Monday, the Cleveland Cavaliers brought their starters back to the lineup
 and squashed the Pistons, 109-97, at Quicken Loans Arena. LeBron James
 finished with a triple-double.
 Andre Drummond had 20 points and nine rebounds and Caron Butler scored 19 for
 the Pistons, who have dropped five of their last seven.
 Detroit's only lead was 3-2. Cleveland scored 23 of the next 28 points to take
 control and later led by as much as 26 four times in the second quarter.
 "We just got totally outcompeted from the beginning of the game on," said
 Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy. "We got blown out and the game was over at the
 end of one (quarter)."
 The Pistons won two of three from the Knicks, including one game this season
 at MSG. Detroit's victory on Jan. 2 in New York stopped an eight-game losing
 streak there.
 (SportsNetwork.com) - With so much yet to be determined in the Western
 Conference playoff race on the final day of the season, two teams who know
 their spot will clash on Wednesday.
 The Portland Trail Blazers, the Northwest Division champions and No. 4 seed,
 will visit American Airlines Center to face the Dallas Mavericks, the No. 7
 seed when the playoffs begin Saturday.
 The Blazers will be on the road this weekend, despite a top-four seeding. That
 is because their record will be worst than either team that finishes fifth or
 sixth. They got the high seed because of a league rule that automatically
 makes a division winner a top-four seed.
 The Mavs await their opponent as well. Both Portland and Dallas could face the
 defending champion San Antonio Spurs, the Memphis Grizzlies, or the Houston
 Rockets. Dallas could meet the Los Angeles Clippers, who can be no worse than
 the third seed.
 Dallas intends to play its starters on Wednesday.
 "We've got to see what our health situation is," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle
 explained. "The plan right now, I believe, is to play everybody and get one
 more game heading into the break. We want to try to win 50, so that's where we
 are at this moment."
 Dirk Nowitzki, Monta Ellis, Tyson Chandler and Chandler Parsons all sat in
 Monday's 109-92 road loss to the Utah Jazz. Amar'e Stoudemire and Charlie
 Villanueva took advantage of the rare starts with 15 points apiece, while J.J.
 Barea netted 18 off the bench.
 Dallas' lone starter to play, Rajon Rondo, finished with 13 points and five
 Parsons has missed five consecutive games with a right knee injury, although
 he indicated he'd like to play Wednesday. Devin Harris hurt his toe in Utah
 and will be out.
 The Blazers have lost three in a row, but have sat important players.
 On Monday, they fell to the Oklahoma City Thunder, 101-90.
 Portland entered the game without injured starters LaMarcus Aldridge (left
 foot sprain) and Arron Afflalo (right shoulder strain). Two more starters --
 forward Nicolas Batum and guard C.J. McCollum -- went down in the first half
 of Monday's contest.
 With 1:37 left in the opening quarter, Batum and Joel Freeland both went up
 for a rebound and Batum appeared to land awkwardly on his right leg as he came
 to the floor. X-Rays were negative.
 McCollum slipped while trying to get free to receive an inbounds pass just
 before halftime. He exited with a left ankle sprain.
 "I liked the way we competed," said Blazers coach Terry Stotts. "I was
 disappointed in the way we competed against Utah but with Nic going down, C.J.
 going down, we kept competing and it was a physical game. I thought we matched
 that better after the initial hit in the first quarter. Competing was what I
 wanted to see tonight."
 Batum and McCollum are out for Wednesday's game, while Aldridge is listed as
 Portland won two of three matchups this season, but is 1-4 in its last five
 trips to Big D.
 (SportsNetwork.com) - Playoff ramifications run huge Wednesday night when the
 San Antonio Spurs visit the Smoothie King Center to take on the New Orleans
 Let's get the easy one out of the way first. If the Pelicans win, they will be
 the eighth seed in the Western Conference playoffs and face the Golden State
 Warriors in round one.
 If they lose and the Oklahoma City Thunder lose to the Minnesota Timberwolves
 on Wednesday, New Orleans gets the postseason berth since it owns the
 tiebreaker over OKC.
 If the Pelicans lose Wednesday and the Thunder win, Oklahoma City gets the
 eighth seed.
 Things are far more complicated for the defending NBA champion Spurs, but only
 if they lose on Wednesday. If they win, they take the Southwest Division title
 and the No. 2 seed, setting up a first-round rematch with the Dallas
 Mavericks, the only team who challenged the Spurs' march to a title last
 If the Spurs lose, and the Houston Rockets lose to the Utah Jazz at home and
 the Memphis Grizzlies lose to the Indiana Pacers at home, then the division
 goes to the Spurs, but the Los Angeles Clippers would be the No. 2 seed and
 San Antonio three.
 If the Spurs lose, and the Rockets win, the Rockets win the division. If
 Memphis wins under that same scenario, the Spurs would be the sixth seed and
 play the Clippers in the opening round. If Memphis loses, the Spurs would be
 fifth and play the Portland Trail Blazers.
 However, if the Spurs lose, the Rockets lose and Memphis wins, the Spurs would
 take the division and be third in the West, setting up a matchup with the
 Rockets in the first round.
 Got it?
 The Spurs have won 11 straight and took down the Phoenix Suns, 107-91, Sunday
 night in San Antonio.
 Reigning Western Conference Player of the Week Tim Duncan scored 22 points
 with 10 rebounds and four assists to lead the Spurs.
 "He always seems to get excited this time of year," Popovich said of Duncan.
 "He is steady all year long and then raises it to even another level when this
 time of year comes. It's remarkable on his part."
 Kawhi Leonard had 18 points and nine rebounds, and Marco Belinelli and Cory
 Joseph each had 13 points off the bench in the win.
 For New Orleans, that eighth seed is at stake and a first playoff appearance
 since the 2010-11 season.
 The Pelicans defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves, 100-88, at the Target Center
 Monday night.
 Anthony Davis totaled 24 points, 11 rebounds and six blocks to lead New
 Orleans to set up this gigantic matchup on Wednesday.
 "This is the next step as a team," Pelicans head coach Monty Williams said
 when asked about Wednesday's must-win game. "We can't run from it. We're going
 to play the champs. This is what we've worked for."
 Tyreke Evans and Eric Gordon both added 22 points in New Orleans' seventh win
 in the past 10 games.
 New Orleans rested Jrue Holiday on the second game of a back-to-back, but he
 is expected to play on Wednesday.
 The Pelicans went 2-1 against the Spurs this season.
 (SportsNetwork.com) - The Oklahoma City Thunder will fight for the final
 playoff spot in the Western Conference Wednesday night when the regular season
 concludes against the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Target Center.
 The Thunder need to beat the Timberwolves and have the San Antonio Spurs
 defeat the New Orleans Pelicans in New Orleans. If the Pelicans win, or the
 Thunder lose on Wednesday, New Orleans is postseason bound.
 If both teams win, or both teams lose, the eighth seed belongs to the Pelicans
 by virtue of a tiebreaker.
 "We just have to focus on winning the game," Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks
 said. "It's a one-game season for us. We have to go up to Minnesota and beat
 them. We have to play for 48 minutes and we can't worry about what is
 happening in New Orleans."
 The Thunder won two of their last three and staved off elimination Monday
 night in a 101-90 home victory over the Portland Trail Blazers.
 Russell Westbrook led the way with 36 points and 11 rebounds in a game he
 didn't know he'd be playing in until Monday afternoon.
 Westbrook scored a career-high 54 points in Sunday's road loss to the Indiana
 Pacers, but the guard received his 16th technical foul of the season. The NBA,
 however, rescinded the technical foul earlier Monday, enabling him to play
 against Portland.
 Enes Kanter added 27 points and 13 rebounds for the Thunder.
 The Thunder haven't missed the playoffs since the 2008-09 season, their first
 in Oklahoma City. It's understandable for OKC to be in this position
 considering reigning MVP Kevin Durant played only 27 games with a foot injury.
 The Timberwolves have something to play for, in a sense. They own the worst
 record in the league, but the New York Knicks are a game behind. If Minnesota
 won on Wednesday, and the Knicks prevailed at home versus the Detroit Pistons,
 there would be a blind drawing at the Board of Governors meeting to determine
 which team gets extra ping-pong balls and draft positioning should either team
 miss the top-three picks.
 The T-wolves have dropped 11 straight and seven in a row as the host.
 On Monday, the Timberwolves fell to the Pelicans, 100-88, at the Target
 Zach LaVine and Chase Budinger led the way with 24 and 18 points,
 A tight first quarter was highlighted by Andrew Wiggins' thunderous dunk over
 Omer Asik.
 "In the last month, he's probably had more highlight dunks than we've had in
 the last five years combined," Timberwolves head coach Flip Saunders said of
 his rookie phenom.
 Wiggins is a favorite for Rookie of the Year honors.
 The Thunder have won six straight against the Timberwolves and sport a 20-3
 record in the matchup since early 2009. The T-wolves have won three of the
 last five in Minnesota.
 UTAH JAZZ (38-43) AT HOUSTON ROCKETS (55-26), 8 P.M.
 (SportsNetwork.com) - The Houston Rockets are still jockeying for position in
 the Western Conference and will wrap up the regular season Wednesday at home
 versus the Utah Jazz.
 The Rockets are currently fifth in the West, while the Los Angeles Clippers
 are in the No. 2 spot after Tuesday's win over the Phoenix Suns in their
 season finale. The Clippers are a half-game ahead of both Houston and San
 Antonio in the standings.
 Houston and San Antonio are tied for the Southwest Division lead, and the
 Spurs have the tiebreaker with a 3-1 advantage in the season series. The
 Clippers will take the No. 2 spot if both the Rockets and Spurs lose.
 San Antonio is third in the West.
 The Rockets have won two straight after dropping two in a row and recorded a
 100-90 victory over the Charlotte Hornets on Monday. MVP candidate James
 Harden scored 29 points and made 14-of-16 free throws to lead the visitors and
 Josh Smith added 16 points and 11 rebounds.
 "We made some stops (after halftime)," Rockets head coach Kevin McHale said.
 "We found some rhythm."
 Rockets center Dwight Howard sat out on the second game of a back-to-back to
 rest his balky knee and Terrence Jones recorded a double-double with 10 points
 an 11 boards in the win. The Rockets' 26 road wins this season are the second
 most in franchise history, one shy of matching the record set in 1996-97.
 Houston is 12-4 in the last 16 games and 29-11 at home this season.
 Harden is chasing Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook for the
 scoring title and trails him 28.0 ppg to 27.5 ppg. Westbrook and the Thunder
 will visit Minnesota Wednesday.
 The Jazz had a decent season under first-year coach Quin Snyder and look to
 close the campaign with three straight wins.
 Utah prevailed for the seventh time in nine tries with Monday's 109-92 triumph
 versus the Dallas Mavericks, as Rudy Gobert tied a career-high with 20 points
 to go along with 17 rebounds. Bryce Cotton scored a career-best 21 points off
 the bench and had an exciting alley-oop jam in the second quarter.
 "I used to catch lobs in the D-League, and we ended up running that play
 tonight," Cotton said.
 Trevor Booker added 13 and 12 boards for Utah, which shot 50 percent from the
 floor and scored 21 points off 17 Dallas turnovers. Joe Ingles chipped in 15
 points to help Utah snap an eight-game slide versus the Mavs.
 The Jazz are first in opponents' scoring at 94.6 ppg and should make a run
 toward the postseason in 2015-16 with a talented roster that includes Gordon
 Hayward, Derrick Favors, Rodney Hood, Trey Burke and Alec Burks.
 Favors (back), Burke (back) and Hayward (Achilles) are questionable against
 the Rockets. Burks has been out since December with a shoulder issue.
 Utah is 1-2 against Houston this season and halted a three-game slide in this
 series with a 109-91 triumph on March 12 in Salt Lake City. The Rockets are
 still 7-2 in the past nine meetings and unbeaten in the last four encounters
 at the Toyota Center.
 (SportsNetwork.com) - The Cleveland Cavaliers know who they'll face in the
 first round of the playoffs and will close the regular season Wednesday night
 versus the Washington Wizards at the Q.
 The Cavaliers earned the No. 2 spot in the Eastern Conference and are
 scheduled to take on the seventh-seeded Boston Celtics in the opening round of
 the playoffs.
 Cleveland welcomed back Akron, Ohio native LeBron James this season and he
 delivered a postseason berth, a Central Division title and the second-best
 record (52-29) in the East. It stopped a two-game slide with Monday's 109-97
 defeat of the Detroit Pistons and prevailed for the 13th time in the last 17
 J.R. Smith led the Cavs with 28 points and sank 8-of-13 3-pointers. He has
 been a huge addition since coming over via trade with the New York Knicks.
 James added a triple-double of 21 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds. It was
 James' 39th triple-double in the regular season and 50th overall, including
 the playoffs.
 "I'm very excited and happy about our rhythm tonight," said James. "That's the
 only thing you kind of fear when guys sit out. But tonight, it was like we
 didn't take games off at all and it was great to have that rhythm tonight
 versus a very offensively powerful team."
 Timofey Mozgov had 16 points and 13 rebounds in the win, and was another key
 pick-up during the season. Kyrie Irving scored 12 points and is questionable
 Wednesday with a balky hip.
 Cleveland is 30-10 at home and has won 19 of the last 20 games at Quicken
 Loans Arena. The Cavaliers have won 27 of the past 28 games when scoring 100
 or more points and are 41-5 when reaching the century mark.
 The Wizards are the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference and dropped a tough
 99-95 double-overtime decision against the Indiana Pacers Tuesday night.
 Marcin Gortat had a double-double of 19 points and 10 rebounds, Bradley Beal
 also scored 19 points and John Wall collected 16 points and 11 assists for the
 Wizards, who were outscored, 14-10, in the second OT and allowed the Pacers to
 rally in the second half (48-40).
 Indiana is in a dogfight for the coveted eighth spot in the East.
 "It was like a playoff game," Wall said of the atmosphere. "We knew it was
 going to be a battle... We fought and it prepared us for the playoffs."
 The Wizards had won five of their previous six games and will face either
 Chicago or Toronto in the opening round of the playoffs.
 Washington has a 17-23 road record this season and may not have forward/center
 Nene Wednesday because of shoulder and ankle issues.
 The Cavaliers are 2-1 against the Wizards this season and have won seven of
 the last 10 meetings between the teams.
 MIAMI HEAT (36-45) AT PHILADELPHIA 76ERS (18-63), 8 P.M.
 (SportsNetwork.com) - For the first time since the 2009-10 season, there will
 be another team representing the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals after
 the Miami Heat were eliminated from playoff contention.
 The Heat were bounced from the picture when the Indiana Pacers used double
 overtime to dispose of the Washington Wizards Tuesday night to stay in the
 hunt for the coveted No. 8 spot in the East.
 Miami last missed the playoffs in 2007-08 and will put the finishing touches
 on the season Wednesday on the road against the Philadelphia 76ers. It has
 reached the NBA Finals in each of the previous four years, capturing a pair of
 NBA titles in that time.
 LeBron James was a huge part of those trips to the Finals, along with Dwyane
 Wade and Chris Bosh, and left South Beach to return home to Cleveland. James
 is an MVP candidate once again and has the Cavaliers in the No. 2 spot.
 Bosh was lost for the season in February with blood clots in his lungs, but
 that opened the door for promising big man Hassan Whiteside. Whiteside is
 averaging 11.8 points and 10.0 rebounds, and has a bright future.
 The Heat went 2-2 on a four-game homestand and closed the stay with a 100-93
 victory over the Orlando Magic Monday night, as Whiteside recorded 24 points,
 13 rebounds and five blocks. Wade added 22 points and handed out five assists,
 while Luol Deng ended with 14 points and 10 rebounds to keep Miami's hopes
 The Heat led by as many as 22 points and needed to hold off a late Magic run
 to get their second win in eight games.
 Erik Spoelstra's squad has lost four straight and nine of the last 10 road
 games and is 16-24 away from South Beach.
 The 76ers have dropped nine in a row and hope to end the season on a positive
 note. They are in contention for a bevy of ping-pong balls in the draft
 lottery and suffered a 107-97 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks Monday night.
 Former Sixer Michael Carter-Williams recorded 30 points, while Robert
 Covington countered with 25 points for Philadelphia, which made 40 percent
 from the floor and turned the ball over 30 times for 47 Milwaukee points.
 "(The Bucks) are a good defensive team. They are a long defensive team,"
 Sixers coach Brett Brown said.
 Sixers rookie forward Nerlens Noel was held out of the lineup due to a right
 ankle sprain and has missed two straight games. He is expected to miss
 Wednesday's contest versus the Heat.
 76ers guard Jason Richardson (knee) and forward Luc Mbah a Moute (shoulder)
 are listed as questionable Wednesday.
 Philadelphia has lost four in a row at home and is 12-28 as the host.
 The Sixers have lost two of three meetings with the Heat this season and the
 two teams have alternated wins and losses over the last seven matchups. The
 Heat are 22-4 in the past 26 games in this series and 6-1 in the last seven
 trips to south Philly.
 (SportsNetwork.com) - The Brooklyn Nets are still alive for the No. 8 spot in
 the Eastern Conference playoff race, but the odds are stacked against them.
 The Nets need a win Wednesday versus the Orlando Magic and a loss by the
 Indiana Pacers against the Memphis Grizzlies to claim the final postseason
 berth in the East.
 Brooklyn holds the tiebreaker over Indiana by winning two of three meetings in
 the regular season. The top-seeded Atlanta Hawks await the No. 8 seed.
 Brooklyn is 12-6 since mid-March and looks to snap a two-game slide versus the
 Magic. The Nets have dropped three of their last four games, including
 Monday's 113-86 blowout at the hands of the Chicago Bulls at Barclays Center.
 Bojan Bogdanovic and Jarrett Jack scored 17 and 15 points, respectively, and
 Brook Lopez added 13 points and eight rebounds for the Nets, who shot 37
 percent for the game and fell to 18-22 at home. Deron Williams had nine points
 and five assists in defeat.
 "There's really no explanation and no excuse," Williams said. "You really
 can't win against a team like this when you're not sharing the ball."
 The Nets mustered just 12 assists on the night.
 Brooklyn is hoping to punch a ticket to the playoffs for a third straight year
 and was eliminated by the Miami Heat in five games in last season's Eastern
 Conference semifinals.
 The Magic will miss the postseason for a third season in a row and have lost
 three straight and 13 of the last 17 games.
 Victor Oladipo scored 30 points on 10-of-23 shooting in Monday's 100-93 loss
 to the Heat and Tobias Harris added 26 points with 12 rebounds. Elfrid Payton
 rounded out the double-digit scorers with 10 points for Orlando, which shot 41
 percent from the floor and were outrebounded, 50-41.
 "They got to the rim at will," said Magic interim head coach James Borrego,
 whose team was beaten 66-46 in the paint. "We did not have enough resistance
 at the rim."
 Nikola Vucevic had just three points and four boards in 19 minutes. He leads
 the Magic in points (19.2), rebounds (10.9) and field goal percentage (52.2).
 The Magic are 12-28 on the road and have lost 13 of the last 15 games as the
 Orlando is 0-2 against Brooklyn this season and has lost three in a row and
 eight of the last 10 matchups in this series. The Nets are unbeaten in the
 last five encounters with the Magic at Barclays Center.
 (SportsNetwork.com) - It's do or die for the Indiana Pacers.
 With the eighth and final postseason spot in the Eastern Conference within
 reach, the Pacers hope to punch their ticket to the playoffs Wednesday on the
 road against the tough Memphis Grizzlies.
 The Pacers are a game ahead of the Brooklyn Nets and need a win at FedExForum
 for their fifth consecutive playoff appearance. The Nets hold the tiebreaker
 over Indiana and will host the Orlando Magic Wednesday night.
 Top-seeded Atlanta awaits the No. 8 seed.
 Indiana stayed alive with Tuesday's 99-95 double-overtime triumph versus the
 Washington Wizards and eliminated the four-time defending Eastern Conference-
 champion Miami Heat in the process. C.J. Miles scored 25 points and George
 Hill flirted with a triple-double, posting 24 points, 10 assists and nine
 The Pacers scored a 48-40 advantage in the second half and netted 14 of the 24
 points in the second overtime. David West had 15 points and eight rebounds in
 the Pacers' sixth straight win.
 "I couldn't be more proud of our group," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. "All-
 out effort and perseverance."
 Washington led by four with 3:19 remaining in regulation when Miles converted
 a three-point play that started an 8-0 run for a 79-75 Pacers' lead. Even
 Wizards All-Star guard John Wall was impressed with the atmosphere.
 "It was like a playoff game," Wall said. "We knew it was going to be a
 battle... We fought and it prepared us for the playoffs."
 Each team was successful on its first possession of the second overtime, then
 each committed a turnover. Miles fired in a 3-pointer and George Hill found an
 open West underneath for a layup to make it 92-87.
 Bradley Beal kept Washington in it with a 3-pointer with under two minutes
 left to close within two. It remained a two-point lead for the Pacers when
 Hill buried a 3-pointer that helped them inch closer to a playoff berth.
 Paul George scored 10 points off the Indiana bench and Roy Hibbert grabbed 12
 rebounds to go along with six points. George, of course, recently made his
 season debut just in time for the playoff push.
 Miles is averaging 26.3 ppg in his last three games.
 Indiana has a 15-25 road record and is 3-5 in the last eight games outside
 Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
 Meanwhile, the Grizzlies are still jockeying for position in the West and are
 currently sixth in the standings - one game behind Houston and San Antonio.
 The Rockets are fifth and host the Jazz Wednesday, while the Spurs sit third
 and visit New Orleans.
 The Los Angeles Clippers are second can finish no lower than third. San
 Antonio will wrap up the No. 2 spot and the Southwest title with a win.
 The Grizzlies went 1-2 on a recent trip and lost for the sixth time in 10
 tries with Monday's 111-107 setback at Golden State. A 41-18 scoring advantage
 in the fourth quarter wasn't enough to lift Memphis and Jordan Adams led the
 visitors with 19 points off the bench. Russ Smith added 16 in a reserve role.
 Zach Randolph was the only Memphis starter to score in double digits, as he
 recorded 10 points and five rebounds. Marc Gasol added six points and Jeff
 Green finished with four in defeat.
 "We didn't compete," Gasol said. "I don't know if everybody realized how
 important that game was."
 Memphis is 30-10 at home and has won three of the last four games on Beale
 Street. Grizzlies guard Mike Conley (ankle) and Gasol (ankle) are questionable
 versus the Pacers.
 The Grizzlies defeated the Pacers, 97-89, back on Oct. 31 in Indy, as Randolph
 recorded 22 points and 13 rebounds. Gasol had 20 points and Miles countered
 with 13 points in that one for the Pacers, who have dropped back-to-back games
 in this series after winning the previous three encounters.
 Memphis is 7-3 in the past 10 games against Indiana.
 (SportsNetwork.com) - The top-seeded Golden State Warriors are still waiting
 to see who they'll face in the first round of the playoffs and will close the
 regular season Wednesday versus the Denver Nuggets.
 The Pacific-champion and NBA-best Warriors will close out a four-game
 homestand Wednesday and have won 17 in a row at Oracle Arena, where they have
 an incredible 38-2 record.
 Golden State has won three in a row after a two-game slide and improved to
 20-3 since March 4 with Monday's 111-107 triumph over the Memphis Grizzlies.
 Klay Thompson scored 26 of his 42 points in the second quarter and went 15-
 of-20 from the floor. Thompson made 8-of-10 3-pointers.
 MVP candidate Stephen Curry added 15 points and eight assists before sitting
 out the entire fourth quarter for the 18th time this season. Golden State,
 which led by as many as 32 points in the third quarter, shot 53 percent for
 the game and turned the ball over 21 times for 25 Memphis points.
 "We did a lot of great things," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. "We did a lot
 of stupid things."
 The Warriors have secured home-court advantage throughout the playoffs and
 lead the NBA with 109.7 ppg. They are 41-10 against teams from the Western
 Conference, going 24-1 at home in that span, and will face either New Orleans
 or Oklahoma City in the first round.
 Denver will miss the playoffs for a second straight season after reaching the
 postseason in 10 consecutive seasons.
 The Nuggets have lost six of their last eight games and suffered a 110-103
 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers Monday night, as Wilson Chandler poured in 32
 points on 12-of-23 shooting and Kenneth Faried added 19 points and grabbed 17
 rebounds. Randy Foye and Gary Harris scored 16 and 13 points, respectively.
 "Every guy who touched the floor for us did their job," Denver interim coach
 Melvin Hunt said. "Chandler was incredible. We played really hard."
 Denver had a 58-47 rebounding advantage and shot 38 percent for the game.
 The Nuggets are 11-29 on the road and have lost four straight and seven of
 their last eight road games. They have split two meetings with Golden State
 this season and are 4-7 in the last 11 matchups in this series.
 (SportsNetwork.com) - The storied franchise that is the Los Angeles Lakers
 will close the books on what has been a disappointing season Wednesday versus
 the Pacific-rival Sacramento Kings at Staples Center.
 The Lakers set the record for most losses in franchise history with a 21-60
 mark and will miss the playoffs for a second straight season. Superstar and
 future Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant played only 35 games this season because of a
 shoulder injury and rookie Julius Randle (leg) appeared in just one game.
 Los Angeles opened this home-and-home series versus the Kings with Monday's
 102-92 setback at Sleep Train Arena, as rookie Jordan Clarkson scored 23
 points and Jabari Brown added 18. Jordan Hill also scored 18 points for the
 Lakers, losers in two straight and seven of eight games.
 The Kings held an 89-88 edge with 4:28 left before pulling away with a 10-1
 run. Omri Casspi jumpstarted the surge with a pair of free throws and capped
 it with a layup for a 99-89 advantage with 1:52 left.
 LA never got within less than nine the rest of the way.
 Clarkson left the game in the fourth quarter with a left ankle sprain. He is
 averaging 20.2 ppg in his last 13 contests.
 "Just a little sore, obviously we will know a little bit more tomorrow,"
 Lakers coach Byron Scott said of the ankle.
 The Lakers are 12-28 at home this season and have lost nine of the last 12
 games as the host.
 Sacramento hasn't made the playoffs since the 2005-06 season and looked like a
 contender in Monday's win.
 The Kings made 49 percent of their shots and were led by Casspi's 26 points,
 nine rebounds and six assists. Derrick Williams scored 20 points off the
 bench, Carl Landry chipped in 14 and Jason Thompson ended with a double-double
 of 10 points and 10 rebounds.
 "I can't deny that I'm a little disappointed that I didn't get a little bit
 more out of them... We'll have a good (draft) pick and I think where we're at,
 it's gotta be a good pick," Kings coach George Karl said.
 Karl took over as coach during the All-Star break and is 10-19. Karl hasn't
 had the luxury of using DeMarcus Cousins (foot) or Rudy Gay (concussion)
 lately, and the two are finished for the season.
 Casspi is averaging 19.9 points in his last eight games with Cousins and Gay
 limited. The Kings are 5-17 without Cousins and 3-10 minus Gay. Point guard
 Darren Collison (abdomen/hip) couldn't avoid the injury bug either and the
 Kings are 12-24 without him.
 The Kings are winless in their last six road games and 10-30 as the guest.
 Sacramento has won three of the last four games against the Lakers, but is
 winless in the past six as the visitor in this series.
 04/15 10:46:56 ET