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NBA

How Sunday's results impact the NBA's playoff picture

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LeBron James (NBA Getty Images)

If it feels like almost every game at this point of the season has playoff implications, it's because they do.

On a busy Sunday in the NBA, eight of the nine games played had some sort of impact on the playoff picture. The only one that didn't? A matchup between the Memphis Grizzlies and Dallas Mavericks, two teams that would need a miracle to make the postseason.

As for the other games, here's what happened...

The top of the Eastern Conference

The Indiana Pacers, Philadelphia 76ers and Milwaukee Bucks each lost on Sunday.

That doesn't change much - it would have had the 76ers held on to beat the Golden State Warriors, as they would've switched places with the Pacers - but the Toronto Raptors are now only two games behind the Bucks in the standings, while the Boston Celtics trail the 76ers by two games and the Pacers by 2.5 for homecourt advantage.

There's still a lot more to be decided at the top of the Eastern Conference.

The bottom of the Eastern Conference

Quite a bit more to unpack here.

The Detroit Pistons started the day with a blowout win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. They were already in the seventh spot, but the Pistons now have the same win percentage as the sixth-seeded Brooklyn Nets following their blowout loss to the Miami Heat.

The Pistons have an opportunity to move ahead of the Nets on Sunday, when they host the Raptors.

That win for the Heat, meanwhile, puts them a step closer to making the playoffs, with only one game now separating them from the Orlando Magic and Charlotte Hornets.

The Hornets, who last played on Saturday, entered Sunday's games as the No. 8 seed, but the Magic moved ahead of them with their win over the Pacers.

If the season ended today, that would mean the first round matchups would be as follows:

  • (1) Bucks vs. (8) Magic
  • (2) Raptors vs. (7) Pistons
  • (3) Pacers vs. (6) Nets
  • (4) 76ers vs. (5) Celtics

The top of the Western Conference

Like the Eastern Conference, no big changes at the top of the Western Conference, although a win for the Warriors and a loss for the Nuggets means Golden State now has a 1.5 game lead over Denver in the standings.

The Warriors and Nuggets play each other on Saturday for a game that could go a long way in deciding which team ultimately gets the No. 1 seed.

As for the middle of the Western Conference, it's starting to get very interesting.

Losing to the San Antonio Spurs leaves the Oklahoma City Thunder with the same record as the Portland Trail Blazers and a big win for the Utah Jazz over the Milwaukee Bucks, led by a career-high 46 points from Donovan Mitchell, moves them within a game of the Houston Rockets.

The Spurs are still unlikely to work their way into one of the top four seeds, but they need every win they can get to distance themselves from the Sacramento Kings and Los Angeles Lakers, both of whom are on the outside looking in on the playoffs right now.

Speaking of the Lakers...

The bottom of the Western Conference

The Lakers were already facing an uphill battle to make the playoffs, but it just got even more difficult with an ugly loss to the Phoenix Suns. They're now 4.5 games behind the Los Angeles Clippers for the eighth seed with one of the toughest remaining schedules in the league.

It's not looking good for LeBron James and his postseason streak.

If the season ended today, that would mean the first round matchups would be as follows:

  • (1) Warriors vs. (8) Clippers
  • (2) Nuggets vs. (7) Spurs
  • (3) Thunder vs. (6) Jazz
  • (4) Blazers vs. (5) Rockets

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