The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

April 17, 2014

Let the (real) games begin: It's NBA playoff time

(Continued)

"What's coming over the next couple months, we know that's how we'll be judged," Heat forward Shane Battier said.

The 16 teams heading to the playoffs were known before Wednesday, but it wasn't until the final night before nine of the seeds were secured and six of the eight first-round matchups were finalized.

Memphis held off Dallas 106-105 in overtime, giving the Grizzlies the No. 7 seed and a shot at the Thunder. Monta Ellis' missed 20-foot jumper at the buzzer for the Mavericks meant they would be heading to San Antonio to open up the playoffs this weekend — and Dallas has lost nine straight times to the Spurs.

"Eventually," Dallas star Dirk Nowitzki said, "we will win one."

Losing nine straight to one opponent, that's not good.

Losing 15 straight, even worse. That's what Charlotte has to overcome against the Heat — who are 15-0 against the Bobcats since James and Chris Bosh arrived to team with Dwyane Wade in Miami.

Charlotte went 7-59 two seasons ago. It went 43-39 this season, clearly having undergone a brilliant turnaround.

Alas, 43 wins wouldn't have come close to being enough out West.

Phoenix's title hopes were doomed by perhaps geography more than anything else. The Suns won 48 games and are done. Toronto won 48 games and earned both a No. 3 seed in the East and a division title.

"Very disappointing," Suns guard Archie Goodwin said.

The East was a mess entering the season's final night with five seeds still up for grabs. Chicago lost to Charlotte in overtime, meaning Toronto finished third and the Bulls got No. 4. But the last three seeds needed a bit longer to be settled, and even though the Bobcats won, they couldn't pass a Washington team that wound up overtaking the Nets for fifth place before the night was over.

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