HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — The Spurs have the top spot in the Western Conference locked up.
The Hornets’ ticket to the postseason has been punched. The Pacers are in, too. Wednesday night’s action around the NBA cleared up a few outstanding issues in regards to the playoffs.
There’s only one spot left, the eighth and final slot in the Western Conference. And the Hang Time Grizzlies have it within their grasp — they can lock up the spot with a win over Sacramento on Friday night.
We still don’t know exactly how the playoff matchups will play out, there is still plenty of jostling being done in the bottom halves of both the Eastern and Western Conference standings. But we could have all 16 playoff teams locked in before the final weekend of the regular season is 12 hours old.
A few notes, quotes and an opinion or two after eyeballing as much of Wednesday night’s action as we could …
Heat Limping Without Wade
All this LeBron James-for-MVP talk has overshadowed an equally impressive season by Dwyane Wade. Just how different are the Heat without Wade in the lineup? They found out last night when they lost to the Bucks while he sat our resting a bruised thigh. The Heat has a 5-8 record when James, Wade or Chris Bosh doesn’t play or doesn’t finish a game due to injury.
ESPN.com’s Brian Windhorst offered up a rather pointed analysis of the Heat’s current state of affairs (you can cover your eyes now, Heat fans):
If the Heat win their last four games, their huge free-agent haul will have meant a grand total of 11 more regular-season wins than the expiring free-agent crew Wade carried around all of last season in overachieving purgatory.
Unless the Celtics lose twice and the Heat win out, adding James and Bosh will have earned the Heat a mere two higher seeds in the standings, unimpressively going from No. 5 to No. 3. Indeed, the playoffs are the time for salvation, but the data doesn’t add up to an inspiring projection.
“What does the 2 seed guarantee you?” asked James, who had 29 points and eight assists in the loss.
“It doesn’t guarantee you win the series. … I’m a prime example. The last two years, I have been the first overall seed of everybody, all 16 teams, and it didn’t pay off for us.”