Around the NBA 4/23: five games that might affect the Bulls.

Here's the schedule, all times central:

Detroit at Indiana 6:00 PM
Charlotte at Washington 6:00 PM
Philadelphia at New Jersey 6:30 PM
Toronto at Milwaukee 7:00 PM
Cleveland at Memphis 7:00 PM
Portland at San Antonio 7:30 PM

At first glance, Bulls fans might not care about any of these games, but there are some reasons to manufacture interest if you like. We can see whether Indiana cares about winning now that they've locked up the three seed, before they play the Bulls on Wednesday. If struggling Philly loses to the Nets they are that much more likely to be the Bulls' first round opponent, and a relatively easy match. On the other hand, if Milwaukee wins they still have a chance of catching Philly and becoming the Bulls' opponent. (The third possibility is NY, which is in seventh now because they won yesterday despite sitting Chandler and Jeffries.)

If Cleveland manages to upset Memphis on NBA TV, or even makes a contest of it, perhaps that will be a warning to the Bulls not to take their last game of the year against Cleveland for granted. Finally, if Portland pulls the unlikely upset and beats San Antonio -- or perhaps Pops decides to sit his starters because he just doesn't care -- then the Bulls would be that much closer to guaranteed home court advantage through the playoffs, and might not even have to beat Indiana to do it. This would have the secondary effect of strengthening Thibs' chances to be Coach of the Year, since Pops is probably his closest rival.

As for Charlotte/Washington ... I've got nothing.

Edit: Here's the Enormous Consequences column on tonight's games -- which admittedly do not have enormous consequences. Nevertheless, 76ers win or a Bucks loss can eliminate the Bucks, the Spurs can continue to march toward the West's top seed and put pressure on the Bulls for the league's best record, and the Grizzlies can continue to win and hope that two Clippers losses might give them the fourth seed and home court advantage in the first round (Clippers own the tiebreaker).

And I have thought of something historic at stake in the Charlotte/Washington game, although it shouldn't affect the Bulls. Charlotte has to win one of its three remaining games (at Washington, at Orlando, and hosting NY) to avoid the lowest winning percentage in NBA history.

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