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Thursday, April 03, 2008

Let the Kids Play

As the playoff picture becomes more concrete, more teams will be looking to take an extended look at younger players or get the veterans healthy for the postseason. A quick look at the standings may offer hints on where to look for help on the waiver wire.

On the top end of the standings, the Celtics have clinched the Atlantic Division and hold a six-game lead over the Pistons for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. We’re already seeing Doc Rivers give his subs some extra playing time as a result.

Detroit is more or less locked into the two seed. They’ve clinched the Central division and hold a five-and-a-half game cushion over the Southeast champs, the Magic. Like the Celtics, they can afford to give the younger guys some run. So can the Magic, who are locked into the three seed with a six-game lead over fourth-place Cleveland.

One game separates spots five through seven in the East, so the Wizards, Raptors and Sixers will be playing all-out through to the end, as will the Hawks, who are currently three games up on the Nets and Pacers for the last playoff position.

In the West, just six games separate the one seed from the ninth spot, and none of the divisions are set yet. No one is resting anyone.

On the bottom end of the standings, the Knicks and Heat are the only teams that have been mathematically eliminated in the East, but the Bulls, Bobcats and Bucks don’t have much of a shot at this point. In the West, the Kings, Clippers, T-Wolves, Grizzlies and Sonics are out of the running, and Portland – five games behind ninth-place Denver -- is very close to being officially eliminated.

Story continues on


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