Sunday, Aug. 31, 2014

Dispatches from the Tank: Final week of the season provides key matchup for Jazz, Lakers (11 items)

By Mitch Kunzler
For the Deseret News

April 11, 2014

For the bottom-feeders in the NBA standings, the light at the end of the tunnel is finally visible. The regular season is coming to a close Wednesday and with it brings the excitement of the NBA Playoffs.

For the worst teams in the league, the playoffs won't be nearly as exciting as the May 20 NBA Draft Lottery, an event that will reveal the order of the lottery picks in the NBA Draft.

Although the season is certainly nearing its end, it isn't over yet. With a week still to go, teams still have a chance to impact their lottery pick chances for better or worse.

With that being said, here are the worst teams in the league and that roads they have before them:

For additional NBA and other sports updates, follow Mitch Kunzler on Twitter: @MitchKunzler.

1 of 11. Milwaukee Bucks

At 14-64, the Bucks have the worst record in the NBA, and currently have a three-game lead over the Philadelphia 76ers for the title of worst in the league. With the worst record also comes the satisfaction of being the team with currently the highest chance percentage wise of securing the No. 1 overall pick.

The Bucks have lost six straight games, including a loss to the Indiana Pacers, a game in which Indiana rested its starters. With the Bucks still playing their starters, they managed to lose the game, and continue their quest for the top pick — a goal that seems very probable at this point in the season.

In the final week of the season, Milwaukee seems to be in a perfect position to end with the worst record. They start out by playing the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday, followed by three current playoff teams in the Washington Wizards, Toronto Raptors and Atlanta Hawks.

Unless their upcoming opponents decide to rest their starters before the playoffs, the Bucks will have a great opportunity to lose every remaining game on their schedule.

2 of 11. Philadelphia 76ers

After tying an NBA record by losing 26 straight games, it was clear what the Sixers' intentions were: to lose games. Conveniently, the following game the Sixers blew out the Detroit Pistons 123-98, making sure that there was no chance of the NBA record for longest losing streak being theirs alone.

The streak is over, but goal is still in sight. They trail the Bucks by only three games in the race for the No. 1 pick, but there might not be enough time for them to catch up.

Catching the Bucks would mean that Philadelphia would likely need to lose its final four games, and Milwaukee would need to win its final four games. With Milwaukee playing three current playoff teams in the upcoming week, one of which (Atlanta Hawks) is still trying to guarantee their place in the post season, and the Bucks shooting for the worst record as well, the chances of Milwaukee winning their final four games are extremely low.

With a draft full of promising talent, the second overall pick wouldn't be anything to pout about.

3 of 11. Orlando Magic

There hasn't been much magic in Orlando this season, but with a stroke of good fortune, the Magic might be able to sneak by with the third-worst record in the league.

Currently, Orlando (23-55) is tied with the Boston Celtics for the third-worst record in the league. There is only one way to out-sink the Celtics in the tanking competition: lose. When surveying the Magic's upcoming schedule, they should be able to do so.

In the next week, Orlando will face four playoff-bound teams in the Washington Wizards, Brooklyn Nets, Chicago Bulls and Indiana Pacers. Each opponent would be tough to beat under any circumstances, but since they are pushing for post-season seeding, and the Magic would prefer to lose, Orlando should be able to hold on to the third-worst record.

4 of 11. Boston Celtics

The Magic aren't the only team hoping for some good fortune. The Celtics are hoping that a little Irish luck runs their way while making their way down the final stretch of the regular season.

Being tied with the Magic for the third-worst record in the NBA, the Celtics are in good position to increase their percentage of getting one of the top picks in the draft. The best situation for Boston would be obviously be to lose the rest of its games, but that may not be as easy as it sounds.

The Celtics will sqaure off against the Sixers in the second-to-last game of the season. The Sixers, who has been notorious all season long for tanking, will definitely to be looking to lose, which will make it tough for the Celtics to do the same.

For the Celtics, the bad news continues. Boston won three of the four matchups with the Magic this year, meaning that the Celtics own the tie-breaker between the two teams. So in terms of tanking, the Celtics lose the tiebreaker. If the Celtics and the Magic lose the rest of their games, the Magic will be in a better position to get a high pick.

5 of 11. Utah Jazz

Sitting one game behind the Celtics and the Magic in the tanking sweepstakes are the Utah Jazz. Utah is a team full of young talent, and adding a lottery pick would definitely help the Jazz in their rebuilding process.

In the final week, the Jazz face the Portland Trailblazers, Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Lakers and Minnesota Timberwolves. Utah very well could lose every game remaining on its schedule, but the Lakers might make things a bit complicated.

The Jazz will face the Lakers, who are currently trailing the Jazz by one game, in the second-to-last game of the season. Depending on what type of record each team has when they meet, Utah and LA might give NBA fans one of the best shows of the year. Watching two teams purposely lose will certainly be fascinating when they clash against one another.

If the Jazz continue to lose and if they can survive a possible scare from the Lakers, they will have the fifth-worst record in the NBA, and be in a solid position for a Top 5 pick.
1. EPoint
Roy, UT,
April 11, 2014

Professional Basketball would do well to remedy this situation of losing to win in the lottery. Professional? At what, making money? With all the money in the NBA, surely they have an idea of how to bring an honest effort into every game, considering the players per game pay, and not reward "tanking" even a single game with a top lottery pick or anything else. My guess is that for some reason they like this current system, again, for financial reasons, and that is why no remedy has been forthcoming.
All that being said, who could blame any time for "tanking" if its in their best interest, if financial gain is the real long term prize? Jazz have established ample reason or excuse to just play the subs, even "rest" the Coach, see how an assistant might coach them differently.

2. ER in AF
Harare, Zimbabwe, 00,
April 11, 2014

This list turned my stomach.

3. Sal
Provo, UT,
April 12, 2014

Why don't you just show the list? Annoying to have to click through every county.