|Warriors back in playoffs, Cavs beat out Bulls for No. 2 seed|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 18 April 2007 23:01|
The Golden State Warriors have to play the league-best Dallas Mavericks, but who cares? After an NBA-high 12-year absence, any postseason appearance is cause for celebration.
``I'm very relieved at this particular moment. I'll wake up tomorrow and it'll be a new day and I'll have a new challenge,'' Warriors coach Don Nelson said. ``But at this particular time I'm going to sit back, drink a cold beer and enjoy the moment. Seize the moment, if you will.''
The Warriors did just that, beating Portland 120-98 Wednesday night to clinch the No. 8 seed and their first postseason trip since 1994 - when Nelson was their coach in his previous stint in the Bay Area.
``I'm glad it's over,'' guard Jason Richardson said. ``I don't think I will be able to sleep for about two days.''
In other games, it was: Orlando 94, Miami 68; Philadelphia 122, Toronto 119; Cleveland 109, Milwaukee 96; New York 94, Charlotte 93; Detroit 91, Boston 89; New Jersey 106, Chicago 97; Denver 100, San Antonio 77; Washington 98, Indiana 95; Memphis 116, Minnesota 94; Utah 101, Houston 91; Dallas 106, Seattle 75; the Los Angeles Lakers 117, Sacramento 106; and New Orleans 86, the Los Angeles Clippers 83.
The big loser on the final night of the regular season was Chicago, which fell 106-97 in New Jersey. A victory would have given the Bulls the No. 2 seed and dropped the Nets to seventh, setting up a first-round series in the Eastern Conference.
Instead, the Bulls tumbled to fifth after Cleveland beat Milwaukee 109-96. The Cavaliers grabbed the No. 2 seed and forced Chicago to open the postseason against Miami - which beat the Bulls in six games last year to kick off its run to the title.
``We know that we've been in (the playoffs) for quite a while,'' Bulls coach Scott Skiles said. ``Our seeding came down to this one game and we didn't play very well. There's no reason not to say that because we didn't. We have to get to the gym, get to work and get ready to play Miami.''
The Heat are ready, even though the Bulls have home-court advantage this time because of their better record.
``Chicago feels that they can beat us,'' Heat guard Dwyane Wade said as he watched the final minutes of the Bulls' loss. ``Kirk Hinrich came out and said it. We'll find out.''
There will be two other rematches from last year in the first round. The Lakers' 117-106 victory over Sacramento gave them another shot at the Phoenix Suns, who rallied from a 3-1 deficit to beat them. Cleveland has a good chance to eliminate Washington again, since the Wizards are without All-Stars Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler.
``They're a team that gave us trouble last time we played them,'' Cavs coach Mike Brown said. ``Eddie Jordan is an experienced coach with an experienced team. They've been to the playoffs the last three, four years, so we have to make sure we have the right mind-frame, the right mental focus, physical focus and try to get a win against that team.''
New Jersey clinched the No. 6 seed and will play the first game of the postseason Saturday afternoon against the Atlantic Division champion Raptors in Toronto, where Vince Carter is likely to hear boos every time he touches the ball.
Carter starred for the Raptors for more than six seasons before his unhappiness forced Toronto to trade him to the Nets in December 2004.
``That matchup, I welcome it. I'm sure that he wants to play here. I don't mind seeing him, either,'' said Toronto's Chris Bosh, a former teammate. ``It's a turning part for this organization. Who better to play than the guy who helped build this place up?''
Also, Washington's 98-95 victory in Indiana sent Orlando to the No. 8 seed in the East and a first-round series starting Saturday against Detroit, which swept the season series.
``It's going to be a challenge for us,'' Magic guard Jameer Nelson said. ``But like I kept saying all season: We accept all challenges, and I think we can beat anybody in a seven-game series.''
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 Spurs and Nuggets rested their top players when they met Wednesday, and Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming skipped the Rockets' victory in Salt Lake City.
Magic 94, Heat 68
Grant Hill scored 17 points, Hedo Turkoglu added 15 and Orlando beat undermanned Miami for its sixth victory in seven games. Wade and Shaquille O'Neal sat out for the visitors.
Nuggets 100, Spurs 77
Reggie Evans had 19 points and 20 rebounds for the Nuggets, who played without Allen Iverson, Carmelo Anthony, Nene and Marcus Camby. Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Fabricio Oberto didn't play for the host Spurs.
Hornets 86, Clippers 83
Rasual Butler hit the tiebreaking jumper with 1.5 seconds remaining to give New Orleans a victory over the host Clippers, who had been eliminated from playoff contention even before the final NBA game of the regular season ended.
Wizards 98, Pacers 95
Antawn Jamison had 19 points and 11 rebounds, and Washington won in Indiana to clinch the No. 7 seed in the East.
76ers 122, Raptors 119
Willie Green had a career-high 37 points to lead Philadelphia and Luke Jackson scored a career-high 30 for the Raptors. Toronto (47-35) unfurled its Atlantic Division championship banner from the rafters of the Air Canada Centre before the game.
Pistons 91, Celtics 89
Flip Murray hit the winning shot and Amir Johnson set career highs with 20 points and 12 rebounds at Boston. The Celtics (24-58) lost eight of nine to finish with the worst record in the Eastern Conference and second worst in the NBA.
Grizzlies 116, Timberwolves 94
Pau Gasol had 25 points and 16 rebounds, and Tarence Kinsey added 22 points to lead visiting Memphis to a victory that assured that Minnesota will keep its lottery pick.
Knicks 94, Bobcats 93
Eddy Curry scored 28 points and tipped in a miss with 0.6 seconds left to give New York a victory in Charlotte, spoiling the final game for Bobcats coach Bernie Bickerstaff.
Mavericks 106, SuperSonics 75
Dirk Nowitzki scored 20 points and Dallas tied for the sixth-best record in NBA history at 67-15 by winning in Seattle.