Time running out for teams making late playoff push

Fri Apr 11, 2014 1:41pm EDT
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(Reuters) - The handful of teams still fighting to secure one of the final four NBA playoff berths have six days to extend their seasons and embark on what they hope is a Cinderella run.

Seven of the eight Eastern Conference playoff spots have already been secured while five of the Western Conference's eight postseason tickets have been punched.

The East's Atlanta Hawks are two games ahead of the ninth-place New York Knicks with each team having four games left on their regular-season schedule.

In the West, the sixth-seed Golden State Warriors are one game ahead of the Phoenix Suns and Dallas Mavericks and two in front of the ninth-place Memphis Grizzlies.

Dallas is two games left to play while their challengers for a playoff spot each have four.

But the teams still chasing playoff spots face long odds of being the last club standing as all but two of the previous 66 NBA champions have come from teams that entered the postseason seeded third or higher.

The top seed in the East has come down to a two-horse race between the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat, who play later on Friday in a game that will put one team in control.

Indiana is currently a half-game ahead of Miami and with a road win on Friday would move one victory away from securing the top seed and home-court advantage throughout the East playoffs.

The Toronto Raptors and Chicago Bulls are locked in a battle for the East's third seed with the former one win away from the Atlantic Division title and the latter riding a season-high six-game winning streak.   Continued...

Apr 6, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Atlanta Hawks forward Paul Millsap (4) shoots over Indiana Pacers forward David West (21) during the first quarter at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports