The Blazer playoff seeding scenarios have been reduced considerably tonight, as the Blazers and Houston both won, and San Antonio is way ahead of the Golden State Whatevers. Denver also won.
On Wednesday night, Portland hosts Denver, Houston visits Dallas, and San Antonio hosts the Hornets. My calculations produce the following projections:
If Houston, Portland and San Antonio all win: Blazers are 4 seed, play Spurs.
If Houston and Portland win, San Antonio loses: Blazers are 4 seed, play Spurs.
If Houston and San Antonio win, Portland loses: Blazers are 5 seed, play Spurs.
If Houston wins, Portland and San Antonio lose: Blazers are 4 seed, play Spurs.
If Houston, Portland and San Antonio all lose: Blazers are 4 seed, play Spurs.
If Houston and Portland lose, San Antonio wins: Blazers are 5 seed, play Rockets.
If Houston and San Antonio lose, Portland wins: Blazers are 3 seed, play Hornets.
If Houston loses, Portland and San Antonio win:
Blazers are 3 seed, play Mavericks A perfect mess -- see the updates below.
If the Blazers win on Wednesday, they sew up home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. If they lose, the Blazers will need New Orleans to beat the Spurs in order for Portland to have that advantage.
To my eye, the worst scenario for the Blazers is Portland losing to Denver, Houston losing to Dallas, and San Antonio beating New Orleans. That puts the Blazers up against Houston, with the Rockets having the home court. Yuck.
UPDATE, 4/14, 1:08 p..m.: A knowledgable reader says that if Houston loses, but Portland and the Spurs win, then Portland is the 4 seed, and plays Houston in the first round. This is based on some multiple-team tiebreaker rules that, to be honest, I have never seen. If anyone has a link to the official version of those rules, I would love to have it.
UPDATE, 4/14, 3:15 p.m.: I have found the official criteria, and they are here. The way I am reading them, both I and the reader may have it wrong. If Houston loses and Portland and the Spurs win, three teams are tied at 54-28: Portland, Denver and the Spurs. The "Playoff Tie-Break Procedures" state:
(1) (a) Since the three division winners are guaranteed a spot in the top four, ties to determine the division winners must be broken before any other ties.
The only tie to determine a division winner in this scenario would be Denver-Portland. Denver would win that one based on division record. That gives Denver the division winner spot.
(b) When a tie must be broken to determine a division winner, the results of the tie-break shall be used to determine only the division winner and its playoff position, not any other playoff position(s).
What happens next is where things get a little crazy. Is there still a three-way tie to be broken? I think there is, with Portland, the Spurs and Denver still all with the same record. San Antonio and Denver are the division winners, but so what? Portland can still get the 2 seed, can't it? "Teams 1 to 4 in each conference are the three division winners and the team with the next best regular-season record, with the seeding of these four teams determined by regular-season record."
They all have the same record, and so there's a three-way tie. The first criterion listed under "More Than Two Teams Tied" is "Better winning percentage in all games among the tied teams." In that case, Portland wins! The Blazers would be 3-1 against San Antonio and 2-2 against Denver, for a 5-3 record. Denver would be 2-2 against Portland, and Denver is 2-1 over the Spurs, for 4-3. The Spurs would be 2-5. Thus, Portland would get the 2 seed and play the Hornets in the first round. Yikes!
The only qualm I have about this outcome is that a separate section of the "Playoff Picture" page, entitled "Tiebreaker Basis," states that the first criterion for breaking a tie is "Division leader wins tie from team not leading a division." Is that true for multiple-team ties as well as two-team ties? It may be that a non-division-winner can get ahead of a division winner only if the non-division-winner has a better record than the division winner -- not just tied. That would definitely place Portland as the 4 seed in this scenario. But that's not what it says under "Playoff Tie-Break Procedures."
UPDATE, 4/14, 8:07 p.m.: The official NBA page on the playoff scenarios now says that if Houston loses and Portland and San Antonio both win, the Blazers will be the 4 seed. They need a better description of their rules, but hey, it's their league.