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NBA

Eastern Conference playoff picture continues to take shape after busy day of NBA action

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Eastern Conference Playoff Picture (NBA Getty Images)

Thursday was full of NBA action and half of the 12 games had an impact on the ever-changing playoff picture in the Eastern Conference.

From the Celtics and Pacers race for homecourt to the five teams vying for the final three spots in the East, take a look at how seven different teams were impacted by Thursday's results...

The race for homecourt

While plenty remains to be sorted out in each conference, the one first-round matchup that is essentially set in stone is the Celtics and Pacers. By virtue of a tiebreaker, Boston entered the day with the No. 4 seed over Indiana, which had an identical record.

Both teams took the floor today and both teams took care of business on the road; the Celtics earned a 10-point win over the Heat at AmericanAirlines Arena while the Pacers cruised to a 19-point win over the Pistons at Little Caesars Arena.

While the results of Thursday's games essentially change nothing - both teams are now 47-32 and the Celtics still hold the No. 4 seed - they set the stage for a big-time showdown when the two teams meet on Saturday.

Indiana, which has lost seven of its last 10, hosts Boston at Bankers Life Fieldhouse with the No. 4 seed essentially on the line.

With a Pacers win: Indiana re-takes the No. 4 seed by gaining a one-game lead over Boston in the standings and the regular season series would end tied at two games apiece.

With a Celtics win: Boston gains a one-game lead in the standings and wins the season series between the two teams 3-1. Winning the head-to-head tiebreaker is crucial as Indiana would have to end the season with a one-game lead over Boston in the standings to earn the No. 4 seed.

What's at stake: The Pacers are currently 29-10 (.743) at home this season and 18-22 (.450) on the road while the Celtics are currently 28-12 (.700) at home and 19-20 (.487) on the road. Home-court advantage could be what swings a long series between these two teams.

Five teams, three spots

The Pistons, who lost for the second consecutive game, are one of five teams vying for the East's final three playoff spots; all five were in action on Thursday.

Detroit was fortunate in that two of the other five teams lost as well, and it was largely unaffected based on the day's results.

The Nets had an opportunity to jump the Pistons in the standings but remain in seventh place after a 10-point loss to the Raptors. The Magic defeated the Knicks by 14 points, reclaiming the No. 8 seed from the Heat, who fell to No. 9 after their loss to the Celtics.

On the outside looking in are the Hornets, who live to fight another day after earning a six-point road win over the Pelicans. While Charlotte trails Orlando by 2.5 games in the standings, it holds the tiebreaker over each of the five teams in play for the final playoff spots and takes on Detroit and Orlando before the season ends.

Team Record Percentage Games Back
6. Detroit Pistons 39-39 .500 +1
7. Brooklyn Nets 39-40 .494 +0.5
8. Orlando Magic 39-40 .494 +0.5
9. Miami Heat 38-40 .487 -0.5
10. Charlotte Hornets 36-42 .462 -2.5

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