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And Down the Stretch they Come…

Published: April 7, 2011

Four games left to go in the regular season, four teams in the mix for possible playoff matchup. With just six days until the regular season concludes, the Hornets have punched their ticket into the dance, but have no idea who their partner will be. The Spurs have clinched the #1 seed and LA has all but secured the second spot, but all of a sudden, OKC is hot on the trails of the Dallas Mavericks for the third seed.

The bottom of the bracket sees Denver as the likely fifth seed, with Memphis, Portland, and the Hornets all fighting for positions six through eight. The good news for the Hornets is that they hold the tiebreaker over both of these teams, but the bad news is that they may very well have the toughest schedule of the three as well. It is no secret that Hornets fans would prefer a matchup with Dallas, and the only way that has a chance of happening is if both teams can hold their current positions.

Let’s take a look at the remaining schedules, along with the key games that could decide the final draw.

Dallas Mavericks- 4 games (3 home, 1 away)

vs. LAC, vs. Phoenix, @ Houston, vs. New Orleans

Schedule Outlook- Dallas will play their next three games against teams with nothing to play for before hosting New Orleans on the final day of the regular season. Dallas is currently 1 game ahead of OKC AND owns the tie-breaker, meaning that 3-1 will clinch the #3 seed for them or going 2-2 if OKC loses just one game will clinch it as well.

Oklahoma City- 4 games (2 home, 2 away)

vs. Denver, @LA, @ Sacramento, Milwaukee

Schedule Outlook: Obviously OKC faces two tough tests in their next two games, but they might catch a break because LA no longer has a chance at the #1 seed. They will likely have to go 4-0 to catch Dallas, otherwise they will face Denver in what might be the most interesting opening round series.

Portland Trailblazers- 4 games (2 home, 2 away)

@Utah, vs.LA, vs.Memphis, @Golden State

Schedule Outlook: Like OKC, Portland might be catching LA at a good time. Their biggest game, however will be the penultimate one against Memphis, as it will decide who gets the tiebreaker, should these two finish with the same record.

Memphis Grizzlies- 4 games (2 home, 2 away)

vs. Sacramento, vs. New Orleans, @ Portland, @ LAC

Schedule Outlook: Memphis matches up with both of the teams that they are fighting for position with in the next week, and although they have the potential to snatch away the tiebreaker from Portland, the Hornets will own the tiebreaker regardless of what happens in their game. That said, a 4-0 stretch lands Memphis the #6 seed, so they are in full control of their destiny in that regard.

New Orleans Hornets- 4 games (2 home, 2 away)

vs. Phoenix, @Memphis, vs. Utah, @ Dallas

Schedule Outlook: The key game in this stretch is the matchup against Memphis, as it is a two game swing depending on who wins that game. A win in Memphis would all but ensure that the Hornets stay ahead of the Grizzlies, seeing that the Hornets have the tiebreaker. If the Hornets are lucky, Dallas will have locked up the third seed by the final night and will rest their players in preparation for the playoffs. 4-0 guarantees the #6 seed, as does 3-1 if both Portland and Memphis lose one time (and one HAS to when they meet on April 12th)

Key Games to Watch:

– All of the Hornets games of course!

Friday, April 8:

Denver @ OKC

Why: If Denver wins this game, Dallas will pretty much lock up the #3 seed. That benefits the Hornets in two ways: Dallas will rest their guys in the final game and a potential 3 vs. 6 matchup.

Lakers @ Portland

Why: This is easily the toughest game remaining on Portland’s schedule. If they win this one, it is a distinct possibility that they could win out, which would force the Hornets to do the same in order to secure the sixth seed.

Sunday, April 10

OKC @ Lakers

Why: Hornets are rooting for a Lakers win here for the reason stated for the last OKC game PLUS it practically guarantees Dallas does not catch LA for the #2 seed (which would give Dallas something to play for).

Tuesday, April 12

Memphis @ Portland

Why: Depending on how the days leading up to this play out, the Hornets could have a lot of interest in this game. The Hornets have the tiebreakers over both, so they will simply have to root against whichever team is ahead of them at the time (if either are).

Bottom Line:

If the Hornets handle their business and go 4-0 and Dallas avoids choking their lead to OKC away, we will have the matchup we all want. However, the game at Memphis will be tough and if the Hornets slip up there, they will be rooting for Portland to take Memphis down on the 12th. 3-1 probably gets the Hornets the sixth seed, but who wants that kind of anxiety. Let’s just Geaux 4-0!

Also, Check out Mikey’s latest post, Hornets guarantee winning record in SW Division with win over Rockets


  1. 42

    April 7, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    Primo analysis.

    I hate sifting through the tie-breakers and correlated schedules…

    Bonus points for the latinate lexicon.

  2. Gec

    April 7, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    imho it’s easy: Hornets must lose all 4 games to finish 8th and have the easier bracket!

    • 42

      April 7, 2011 at 3:51 pm

      A game theorist would say that if that achieved a good that is good for all, then Portland and Memphis would employ that strategy. They have the edge on us in that regard, especially Memphis, as even if they defeated us, they could end up 8th.

      As a result, we should not pursue that strategy and compete for 6th.

      Also, this would be a pure strategy, not a mixed strategy. I’m fairly certain this is a Nash Equilibrium since Portland does well against LA, and that Denver and OKC are pretty much locked in together. Pretty much.

      • Gec

        April 7, 2011 at 4:24 pm

        yeah i think you are right, i tought we were 44-34.

      • 42

        April 7, 2011 at 5:02 pm

        Not me, a game theorist.

        Those pesky game theorists…

      • paul

        April 7, 2011 at 10:45 pm

        game theorist?
        What in hell is a game theorist?
        Do they have this on their business cards?????

      • 42

        April 7, 2011 at 11:12 pm

        Game theory is a branch of mathematics. A game theorist is a an expert or practitioner of game theory. For instance, I could be called a mathematician, statisitican, geometer, or topologist depending on the situation on which area of focus you are dicussing.

        Lewis Carroll was a Logician.

        Damn it, paul, you write with abandon, and I appreciate that more than you know.

        Game theory studies various problems as ‘games’, but it boils down to creative modeling, optimization, and usually statisitics. Most of the big results (including Nash’s economics Nobel) employ statistics necessarily.

        Look up the prisoner’s dilemma.'s_dilemma

        There are better expositions out there for sure. Hit me up if want more, and I’ll find more.

      • paul

        April 8, 2011 at 7:59 am

        OK, 42…I think I undersrand.
        You math heads have a title for every role you play.

        I cannot claim any such skill. Having spend just a little time in the school system and much more outside weaving and dodgeing and ducking, shouting safely from the back rows…I never got the right paperwork to allow myself a legitimate business card title.
        Well, other than Vice president of Laclede, Inc.
        But that’s a family business.
        We give out VPs like crackers with cheese.
        My old hippie friends still crack up over the title.
        See…they know the real me.

      • 42

        April 8, 2011 at 9:37 am

        Don’t eat the cheese, paul.

      • NolaHog

        April 8, 2011 at 10:45 am

        Thanks for the helpful link. After reading that, I agree. . . we should go for the 6th seed. We refuse to take the “prisoner’s dilemma” cheese!

      • 42

        April 8, 2011 at 11:15 am

        Dude! You want that pair tonight? I can send now…

  3. Edbballin504

    April 7, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    This final week is gonna be fun. I hope we finish 6th or 7th. Either one would put a smile on my face. Go Bees!

  4. carpo

    April 7, 2011 at 5:32 pm

    starting today utah vs portland.


    • SadHornetsFan

      April 7, 2011 at 10:21 pm

      ya, big game tonight. a utah win would ease a little pressure for the Hornets

  5. HoumaHornet

    April 7, 2011 at 6:16 pm

    As a division champion, the Thunder would have the tiebreaker over the Mavs despite losing the season series to Dallas.

    • winze

      April 7, 2011 at 7:52 pm

      No it just means they get a guaranteed top 4 seed, doesn’t mean they get the tie breaker over Dallas. Whoever has the better record is the higher seed from what I understand

  6. 504ever

    April 7, 2011 at 8:45 pm

    I still say winning the next three games puts the Hornets in 6th place with a rest game against Dallas in the last game, because Portland losses to LA in the second game of a back to back that starts in Utah. The Hornets still have to take it one at a time to win the next three.

    Speaking of which on back to backs, I think it is important that, in the last four games, Memphis has a back to back and Portland has two. The Hornets have none!!!

  7. 504ever

    April 7, 2011 at 9:34 pm

    The only thing missing is the back to backs the Hornets, Blazers and Grizzlies have left:

    Blazers: 2
    Grizzlies: 1
    Hornets: 0

    This seem to favor the Hornets, especially when Portland players the Lakers in a the second game of a back to back that started at the Jazz.

    • CP3nBrees

      April 7, 2011 at 9:43 pm

      Hornets have one back to back games left on Sunday and Monday.
      Sunday @ MEM, Monday back in the hive for the Jazz.

      • 504ever

        April 8, 2011 at 9:54 am

        You are right about the one Hornet back to back. (Don’t know how I missed that.) Thankfully the second game is at home versus (new coach & low on talent) Utah and after a short flight, same time zone, game at Memphis. Hopefully we will have won tonight and at Memphis, and Portland will have lost tonight. Then we will know a win gives us the 6th seed and a rest game against Dallas.

  8. Eric

    April 8, 2011 at 1:02 am

    yea okc has the tiebreaker over dallas, not the other way around

    the first tiebreaker is not head-to-head, but division winner if a division winner and a non-division winner finish in a tie

      • Eric

        April 8, 2011 at 8:26 am

        in that link it says the following(look at the first one):

        (-) Tie breaker not needed (better overall winning percentage)
        (1) Division leader wins tie from team not leading a division
        (2) Head-to-head won-lost percentage
        (3) Division won-lost percentage
        (4) Conference won-lost percentage
        (5) W-L Percentage vs. Playoff teams, own conference
        (6) W-L Percentage vs. Playoff teams, other conference
        (7) Net Points, all games

      • 42

        April 8, 2011 at 9:06 am

        I’m with you.

        Look at my explanation in the link I posted and the paragraph below that that says Playoff Tie-Break Procedures.

        It’s confusingly written. I think what I’m saying is right, but with that level of clarity either one, or both, of us could be hosed up.

  9. Patrick Clay

    April 8, 2011 at 1:23 am

    Well, Utah lost, and we’re back in 7th. Why is it we can’t ever keep the 6th seed for more than 24 hours?

  10. Hornet Seantonio

    April 8, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    Well done Mac, this is exactly what i was lookin for. A good brief of everything coming up what matters what doesnt, good shit.

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