Two games, complicated stakes
by Adi Joseph, USA TODAY Sports
The NBA regular season’s penultimate day features two games, thanks to the cancellation of the Boston Celtics-Indiana Pacers game. A quick look at those games for Tuesday, April 16, and their playoff stakes (all times p.m. Eastern):
Toronto Raptors (32-48) at Atlanta Hawks (44-36), 8, TNT
The Hawks are a half-game ahead of the Chicago Bulls for the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference with two games to play. The Bulls hold the tiebreaker because of a 2-1 season series. That means Atlanta needs either two wins or one win and a Bulls loss Wednesday to take the No. 5 seed, which could be a big advantage given that it puts them against the No. 4 seed Brooklyn Nets instead of the No. 3 seed Indiana Pacers. The Hawks split season series with both. The Bulls went 1-3 vs. the Pacers and 3-1 vs. the Nets. Chicago closes Wednesday at home against the 29-52 Washington Wizards, while Atlanta plays at the 53-28 New York Knicks.
Portland Trail Blazers (33-47) at Los Angeles Clippers (54-26), 10:30, TNT
The Clippers are the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference, but they can move up to the No. 3 seed. All it requires is two Clippers wins and a Denver Nuggets loss. The Clippers head up to the Sacramento Kings for Wednesday, while the Nuggets host the Phoenix Suns. Denver has the best home record in the NBA at 37-3. The fight for No. 3 is perhaps the most relevant seeding contest left, as the gap between the No. 5 Memphis Grizzlies and No. 6 Golden State Warriors continues to grow. The Oklahoma City Thunder also have clinched the No. 1 seed in the West, and avoiding them until the conference finals would be paramount.… [For more on Tonight's NBA schedule: Two games, complicated stakes, click here.]