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Trying to manipulate NBA standings an exercise in futility

So here we are, less than a week until the NBA season ends and what we know is basically nothing.

We know the Raptors and Boston will finish one-two in the Eastern Conference and Houston and Golden State will be the top two in the West but that’s really about it.

How crazy is the rest of it?

Well, Milwaukee loses at home to Brooklyn, Washington coughs up a 17-point fourth quarter lead in Cleveland and now the Wizards and Bucks are tied for eighth, Cleveland’s a game up on Philly for third and Cavs are at the Sixers tonight with the tiebreaker on the line.

The West is even crazier.

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Denver beats Minnesota at home and is now tied for eighth, Portland loses in Houston and all of a sudden they aren’t a lock for third and San Antonio – who by their standards are struggling through a tough season – have a chance at homecourt for the first round or they could finish out of the playoffs. Ditto for Oklahoma City and if the Timberwolves fall out of the post-season, it will be a shocking collapse.

It’s crazy and it’s going to be a crazy final six nights of a crazy, injury-filled season.

However, if there’s one thing that’s become apparent over the last little while, and which will be of particular interest to the conspiracy theorists among you, is that if even if you wanted to manipulate the standings to get some perceived easier route through the playoffs, you can’t.

So much of what happens to your team depends on what happens with other teams and, as I’ve always said, you screw with the basketball gods and the basketball gods will screw with you.

How many people at home last night do you think were thinking: “Oh, man. Cleveland is so throwing this game and they’ll lose in Philly ‘cause they want to finish fourth so they get Indiana instead of Miami in the first round and then Toronto” only to watch them come back from something like 10 down with three minutes left? Guess the Cavs didn’t get the memo.

And do you think anyone thought, “Oh, Milwaukee will beat Brooklyn because they want to finish seventh so they don’t have to play Toronto in the playoffs again” and then they go out and lose to the Nets?

I know it’s fun to try to get inside the heads of players and figure out how they might thing and to try to understand what teams might want but it’s actually dead wrong.

No matter what result to what game might be thought to be beneficial, when they throw the ball up, all that really matters is that night. The competitive juices take over, the game’s the only thing and you try to win it.

You do that every night, take stock of where you are after 82 and then go about your playoff business against whoever it is you have to play.

It’s the only way athletes know how to act and a lot of fans’ brainpower would be better spent starting to think about birthday gifts for their local Grant rather than trying to guess who wants what when and how they have to orchestrate the final week to get it.

Doesn’t work that way.

Been a while since we heard these guys.

I think it’s kind of cool that the pucks need one win for their franchise record and the Raptors need one for theirs.

But since there seems to be no firm definition of a “win” in the hockey – is an overtime win the same as real win and what about shootouts since they weren’t invented in bygone eras?

So it’s a bit of a bogus claim, but it still seems fun.

Plus, ROW.

If you didn’t feel badly for Sergio Garcia as he was going all Roy McAvoy at the 15th hole in the Masters yesterday, you’ve got no heart.

That was painful to watch and I can’t imagine how painful it was to do – well, having made the odd 13 I kinda know – and how do you think it feels to be the defending champion and know your tournament’s over before you get to the 16th tee on Thursday?

But, you know, it’s still second to Jack’s grandson in the best story of the Masters competition so far.

All right, let’s do one more call for submissions for the weekend mailbag, which goes back to its usual Sunday morning timeslot this week.

It’s askdoug@thestar.ca as it always is and you should drop a note, it’s a fun thing to do.

Stopped by the 905ers yesterday to chat up Stack and Lorenzo Brown as they headed off to try and win an Eastern Conference championship tonight.

It could be a bit of a grind as the G League is since they took a bus for the three=hour drive and if they win, they’ve got to turn around and get to Austin, Texas, to open the championship series on Sunday and I can bet a lot of money there aren’t any Erie-Austin direct flights.

So, maybe bus back here, fly to Texas tomorrow and have to open a Finals on Sunday night? Seems a bit of a load, no?

And if you care, if they do win tonight, Game 2 of the final is out here in glorious Hazelville on Tuesday, which is nice ‘cause it’s an off-night for the Raptors and I can go.