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2008, April 15: ESPN.com Daily Dime – Warriors Last Team Out, Nuggets Last One In

June 24, 2008

April 15, 2008 — Welcome to the playoffs, Atlanta Hawks and Denver Nuggets.

Both
teams qualified for the last two postseason spots by virtue of the
defeats sustained Monday by the Indiana Pacers and Golden State
Warriors, respectively.

Never mind that the Hawks currently have
11 fewer wins than the Warriors, pointing up the disparity in the
quantity of quality teams between the East and West conferences.

The
Warriors will be missed. The feel-good story of last season’s playoffs
found themselves on the outs after a 122-116 loss to the Phoenix Suns.
Even if Denver were to lose its finale to Memphis and Golden State were
to win against Seattle, Denver gets in by virtue of its superior
head-to-head record with the Warriors.

"The teams we have left
in the West are balanced teams," ESPN analyst Jalen Rose explains. "The
Warriors’ style is exciting, but they just weren’t balanced like the
rest of the contenders."

No more Baron Davis heroics. No Monta Ellis moves to make you say "what?" No Stephen Jackson excitement.

"We
Believe" falls short with 48 wins. They could still tie the NBA mark
for best record without making the playoffs with a win over the Sonics,
who might be preoccupied renting a fleet of moving vans and rustling up
some Styrofoam packing peanuts. The mark of 49-33 is held by the
1971-72 Suns.

Davis’ ending was tough. The man who spearheaded
the Warriors magical upset of the Mavs in last year’s playoffs was on
the bench after failing to find the range in the first half. Look for
plenty of Davis and coach Don Nelson stories in the days ahead. Not
pretty.

Denver is in. Facing New Orleans might not be a bad thing.

"Denver has players with significant playoff experience," Rose says. "Not as much for a young team like the Hornets."

The East pairings were all nailed down as a result of Monday’s games. The West pairings are mostly still up in the air.

Another
important development on the court was Utah’s 105-96 win over Houston
that assured the Jazz would have the tiebreaker if the two teams finish
with the same record. If these two end up squaring off as the 4-5 seeds
carrying the same records, that would give the Jazz home-court
advantage.

Nobody wants a piece of a home-court advantage Utah team that seems unbeatable in Salt Lake City.

Over
in the East, Indiana’s loss to the Wizards took any pressure off the
Hawks. They needed a win against either Orlando on Tuesday or Wednesday
in Miami.

Imagine if Atlanta needed those wins, lost to Orlando and couldn’t get it done against the NBDL Heat? That would be rich.

"I’m happy for Atlanta and their fans. They haven’t seen the playoffs since the days of Mookie Blaylock," Rose said.

Instead, Atlanta can now get ready to face Boston in the first round.

The playoffs start Saturday.

Andrew Ayres is an NBA editor for ESPN.com

By Andrew Ayres – ESPN.com