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Point differentials could come into play

Some 3-1 teams might not advance as tournament group stage wraps up


MIAMI Say this for the NBA: It will have some drama for the final night of group play in the inaugural In-Season Tournament.

There are eight games left, all of which could have implications on who will advance.

All teams play four games in the group stage; 14 teams are done and the other 16 teams wrap up their group slates Tuesday. Every group winner will reach the quarterfinals, and the best second-place team from each conference will earn a wild-card spot.

There’s a good chance that tiebreakers to separate teams with 3-1 (or maybe even 2-2) records will come into play. The second tiebreaker is head-to-head, and the second is point differential.

“We’ll just focus on trying to get a win tomorrow,” said Miami coach Erik Spoelstra, whose Heat host Milwaukee. “We know what the differential has to be. You can’t go into a game thinking that. That’s not how you win games against good teams.”

Indiana and the Lakers are the only teams that have secured quarterfinal spots. Both went 4-0 in group play. Sixteen teams remain alive for the remaining six quarterfinal spots. The easiest things to figure out are these: If Milwaukee beats Miami and if Sacramento beats Golden State, then the Bucks and Kings will be the other two quarterfinal hosts.

Other than that, good luck figuring out all the possible tiebreakers.

East Group A

Indiana (4-0) is in. Atlanta (1-2) must win at Cleveland and will still need a lot of help to advance. Cleveland (2-1) eliminates Philadelphia (2-2) and Atlanta with a win, but it probably needs to be by a sizable margin to advance.

East Group B

The Bucks, Knicks or Heat could win the group. Milwaukee (3-0) is in Miami (2-1), while Charlotte (1-2) is at New York (2-1). Charlotte can advance if the Cavs, Knicks, Heat, Boston and Brooklyn all lose, and even then the Hornets would have to beat the Knicks by a lot.

East Group C

If Brooklyn (2-1) loses to Toronto (1-2), Orlando (3-1) wins the group (the Magic could win other ways, too). Boston (2-1) must beat Chicago (0-3) to have a chance.

West Group A

The Lakers (4-0) are in and the Suns (3-1) will sit around to find out their fate. They would advance with a Minnesota loss to Oklahoma City in the West’s Group C.

West Group B

If Houston (2-1) beats Dallas (1-2), the Rockets win Group B. If Dallas beats Houston, New Orleans (3-1) wins Group B.

West Group C

The Kings (3-0) win the group with a win over Golden State (2-1). The Warriors need a win to have a chance to advance as a wild-card or the group winner, while Minnesota (2-1) needs to beat Oklahoma City (1-2).





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