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

By Tim Reynolds

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, April 17 2014 9:00 a.m. MDT

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.

Nets coach Jason Kidd rested all five of his starters, plus some backups, even though his club could have finished No. 5.

"I like right where we are," Kidd said.

Kidd probably had a good idea going into Wednesday night that Washington would beat Boston, so it's clear that he didn't mind dropping down a spot in the East bracket. Brooklyn would likely face Miami — a team it swept — in the second round now. Had Brooklyn been the fifth seed and won an opening series, it would have likely faced Indiana, which topped the Nets in all four of their meetings.

Fitting, then, that talk of tanking — a ploy teams who are looking to rebuild through the draft are often accused of — permeated the season's final night as well.

"You've got to be careful what you wish for," Toronto coach Dwane Casey said. "I've been in both situations. You think you want to play a certain team now and then once you start preparing for them you say 'Whoa, that team's pretty good.' and then all at once you've got a dogfight. So I think the best way to approach it is let the basketball gods decide."

There's no more tanking now.

For the 16 teams left standing, it's title or nothing. And the journey starts Saturday.

Follow Tim Reynolds on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/ByTimReynolds

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