Eastern Conference playoff field set as Pacers, Bulls clinch berths

Facing a possible win-or-go-home situation, the Bulls extended their season with a resounding 112-73 win over the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday night.

Forwards Quincy Acy (left ankle soreness), guard Sean Kilpatrick (left hamstring tightness) and guard Joe Harris (sprained left shoulder) were inactive while center Brook Lopez, forward Trevor Booker and guard Jeremy Lin are healthy but were being "rested".

The NBA playoffs begin Saturday afternoon. Philly, in last place last season, a 10-72 record, bounded over Brooklyn this year, winning 28 games, a plus 18 in this year's win column. Every team, especially in the Eastern Conference, has had its ups and downs, has had a challenging year.

Boston wrapped up the No. 1 seed with a win over Milwaukee. Cleveland fell to 0-4 in games this season without the trio and 0-8 minus James. But Miami didn't get the help it needed, as both the Pacers and Bulls also won Wednesday. It's been a topic of conversation all season, but in this case, it's a good thing for the Bulls. "If something is going to stop me from where I need to be running-wise, then I won't play".

The Heat [41-41] are the only team in National Basketball Association history to go from 19 games under.500 to owning an even record at the end of the season. "So you want them guys to get out there and get that experience of that first game. We want Melo!" chants broke out. Dwyane Wade and the Chicago Bulls trounced the Brooklyn Nets and the Indiana Pacers hung on to beat the Atlanta Hawks to eliminate Miami from the playoffs and end its season. They are light years away from the playoffs, so there's no utility to the rest; according to Nets Daily, another loss wouldn't help their chances of getting another second-round pick, so they're not tanking; it's not part of a back-to-back road game, so they're not anxious about increased risk of injury. But Indiana soon righted the ship and cruised to victory to earn the No. 7 seed.

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"It sucks", Johnson told the Miami Herald.

The Bulls could land the No. 7 seed, No. 8 seed or miss the playoffs entirely, depending on Wednesday's outcomes. They will face Cleveland in the opening round. The Nets have nothing to play for whatsoever - they've clinched the worst record in the league for a lottery pick they don't even own. Thabo Sefolosha played 23 minutes but didn't score. Rondo scored 10 points.

The Mavericks won despite leaving starters Dirk Nowitzki, Harrison Barnes and Wesley Matthews at home.

For the Nets, the game offers an opportunity to play the role of spoiler and finish a hard season with a win. McDaniels added 15 points. The Hawks, locked into a first round series with the Wizards, sat five players including All-Star Paul Millsap. Goran Dragic is averaging 20.2 points and 5.8 assists per game while Hassan Whiteside is adding 16.9 points and 14.1 rebounds per contest.

MAGIC 113, PISTONS 109: Aaron Gordon had 32 points and 12 rebounds, Elfrid Payton scored 21 points and Orlando overcame a late-run by visiting Detroit to win its season finale 113-109 Wednesday night.

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