1. If Utah wins at home against the Phoenix Suns, the Jazz can be no lower than the #3 seed in the West. (Utah gets #2 if Dallas flubs it at home against San Antonio, which is resting both Duncan and Ginoboli. Curse you, Gregg Popovich.) If Utah loses, it will take the #5 seed and open on the road against those very same Suns Denver. With a win, Utah’s first round opponent would be either San Antonio or the Portland Trailblazers, who may be without the services of Brandon Roy. The Jazz should beat either team (although I would dread a match-up with the Spurs); more importantly, it would not draw the Lakers until the Conference Finals.
2. If Oklahoma City wins at home against Memphis (a given), all eight playoff teams in the West will have no less than 50 wins. Not too shabby. And yet the Finals champ will still probably come out of the East (Cleveland).
3. The eight seed in the East belongs to Chicago if the Bulls can win in Charlotte, or if the fast-fading Toronto Raptors lose at home to the Knicks. Regardless of the outcome, John Paxson and Vinny Del Negro apparently do not get along.
4. Not dependent on tonight’s action is the fact Kevin Durant will become the NBA’s youngest scoring champion at 21 years of age. Durant will be rewarded with a first-round draw against Kobe Bryant and the Lakers, which have lost 6 of 10 going into tonight’s finale. It will not matter. (Although a Thunder upset would be the greatest thing to happen to the NBA since The Book of Basketball came out last fall.)
5. Sundiata Gaines’s three-pointer to beat the Cavs was ESPN’s #3 highlight of the regular season. Let’s hope it doesn’t come down to this tonight.