|Nets earn No. 6 seed; Cavs get No. 2 while Bulls fall to fifth|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 18 April 2007 16:50|
The New Jersey Nets beat the Bulls 106-97 Wednesday night, clinching the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference and preventing Chicago from finishing second.
New Jersey will open the postseason against the Atlantic Division champion Raptors in Toronto, where Carter is likely to hear boos every time he touches the ball. He starred for the Raptors for more than six seasons before his unhappiness forced Toronto to trade Carter to the Nets in December 2004.
A Chicago victory would have set up a Bulls-Nets series in the first round. Instead, the Bulls fell to the No. 5 seed and will open the postseason against the defending champion Heat.
Miami took the first step toward its title last year by beating Chicago in six games in the first round. But the Bulls had the better overall record, so they get the extra home game against the Heat.
The Cleveland Cavaliers capitalized on Chicago's loss to vault into the No. 2 spot after beating Milwaukee 109-96 earlier Wednesday. That means the Cavs will face No. 7 Washington, minus injured All-Stars Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler, in the first round.
Still to be determined on the final night of the regular season were the bottom two spots out West. The Golden State Warriors needed a victory at Portland to return to the postseason for the first time in 13 years. The Los Angeles Clippers were a game behind, needing a Golden State loss and a victory over New Orleans to grab the last spot by way of a tiebreaker.
The Warriors could still end up in seventh if they won and the Lakers lost to Sacramento. Otherwise, the Lakers and Phoenix Suns would meet in the first round for the second straight year, and the Warriors would open against league-best Dallas in a matchup of Golden State coach Don Nelson against his former team.
The only series that had already been determined entering Wednesday were No. 3 San Antonio against No. 6 Denver, and fourth-seeded Utah against No. 5 Houston. The Rockets will have home-court advantage because of a better record.
The Spurs and Nuggets didn't learn anything from each other in their game at San Antonio on Wednesday night. Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili all sat out for San Antonio, while Denver rested Carmelo Anthony, Allen Iverson, Marcus Camby and Nene.
The Rockets and Jazz also met Wednesday night. Houston kept Tracy McGrady on the bench, while Yao Ming was dressed but not expected to play.
The playoffs open Saturday.