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How Losing Is Sometimes Winning, And Vice Versa

By Jeff Koch on April 12, 2011.

San Antonio 93, Los Angeles Lakers 102  //  61-20  //  1st in the West

By the final tally, we lost the game. In almost every other regard, it was a winning night for the Spurs. Despite Duncan, Ginobili, Parker, and McDyess all sitting out (Pop must be reading the blog, as he is doing exactly what I called for last week), the Spurs “JV” team hung with the Los Angeles Lakers team at full strength and desperately needing a win for about 45 minutes. We shot like crap, yet hung in with gritty defense and scrappy play. It was fun and inspiring to see the team play so well, and any doubts about our team’s depth should be put at ease a bit after the game. One of last year’s secretly biggest issues for this team was the complete lack of a bench in the playoffs; it appears (hopefully) that that issue may be put to rest.

By the final tally, the Lakers won the game. But in almost every other regard, it was a depressing night for them. Their starters had to play regular minutes to beat a Spurs team more or less looking to lose the game. And Andrew Bynum went down with a yet undetermined knee injury. Most people (including myself) believe that with a fully healthy and engaged Bynum, the Lakers hold the upper hand in coming out of the West; but without him, they are more vulnerable than ever. If this injury is as serious as it appeared it could be, it could be a major game changer.

And now we come to the final night of the regular season, with 5 spots still to be determined in the West. Let’s start at the bottom, where it’s become a 2-team race to finish 7th and 8th. After Monday’s performance by the Hornets and Tuesday’s performance by the Grizzlies, it appears that both teams are slightly tanking to finish 8th and face the Spurs, rather than finish 7th and face the Lakers (jokes on them, as the Lakers can still slip out of the 2 seed, leaving the 7 seed a much more favorable match-up). Right now, the two teams are tied with the Hornets owning the tiebreaker; so if the Hornets win or the Grizzlies lose, the Hornets are the 7-seed, the Grizzlies are the 8-seed and our first round opponent. If the Hornets lose and the Grizzlies win, then the Hornets are the 8-seed. The Hornets play the Mavs in Dallas, so, given that the Mavs still desperately want to win, it’s likely the Hornets will lose. The Grizzlies play the Clippers and should win, so we’ll see how hard they try and if they really want us in the first round.

The Blazers locked up the 6-seed tonight with a win against the Grizzlies.

The Nuggets are locked into the 5-seed.

That leaves the 2-, 3-, and 4-seed all up for grabs between the Lakers and Mavs, who are tied, and the Thunder, who sit one game back. The Lakers own the tiebreaker against both teams, so if they win in Sacramento (not an easy task, especially as it may be the very last game played in Sacramento ever), they are the 2-seed. If the Mavs win and the Lakers lose, the Mavs are the 2-seed, the Lakers are the 3-seed, and the Thunder are the 4-seed. The only way the Thunder can move up is if they beat Milwaukee at home and the Mavs lose, in which case the Mavs would drop to the 4-seed, and the Thunder would move up to the 3-seed. The Thunder can not move up to the 2-seed and past the Lakers. The Lakers can not drop to the 4-seed since the Thunder can not pass them.

So, the Mavs can be the 2-seed (with a win and a Lakers’ loss), the 3-seed (with a win and a Lakers’ win or with a loss and a Thunder loss) or the 4-seed (with a loss and a Thunder win).

The Lakers can be the 2-seed (with a win or with a Mavs’ loss) or the 3-seed (with a loss and a Mavs’ win).

The Thunder can be the 3-seed (with a win and a Mavs’ loss) or the 4-seed (any other scenario).

Lots to play for on Wednesday night. The Hornets-Mavs and Bucks-Thunder are both scheduled for 8ET, while the Grizzlies-Clippers and Lakers-Kings are both scheduled for the late 10:30ET start. So the results of the early games may affect how the late games are played.

One more game of note: the Bulls face the Nets with the overall best record in the league on the line. If the Bulls and Spurs both win, it’s a tie. Here’s hoping for a magical night from the depleted Nets, playing for nothing, on the road, against the hottest team in the league. Yes, I do believe in miracles.

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