Answer: To gain homecourt advantage. Huh? Read on.
Ian mentioned in jest the possibility of the Pistons dropping a game on purpose to help the Hornets into the playoffs and push Ron-Ron and the Kings out. Of course it's ridiculous to think the Pistons would do that, but Mark Cuban has thought of a scenario in which an NBA team might want to lose a game:
Right now the Grizz and the Clippers are battling it out for the 5th playoff spot. The Nuggets pretty much have their division locked up. Locking in the 3rd seed.
The 5th seed plays the 4th seed. The 3rd seed plays the 6th seed. The interesting tidbit however is that between the 3rd and 6th seed, the team with the better record gets home court advantage.
So riddle me this NBA fans.
What happens if both the Grizz and Clips clinch homecourt advantage over the Nuggets? Put another way, its possible that, and Im just picking numbers here, the Grizz and Clips are tied with 4 games to play, and both teams know that the team that loses more of those 4 games gets home court advantage against the Nuggets. The team that wins more, gets the Mavs or Spurs starting on the road.
It could happen. Up five and a half games in the Northwest Division, the Nuggets have likely locked up the No. 3 seed, even though their 41-33 record isn't as good as the Grizzlies (42-32, third place in the Southwest Division) or the Clippers (42-30, second in the Pacific Division). The No. 4 seed will be either the Mavs (most likely) or the Spurs (if they collapse and cede the division to Dallas), meaning the Grizzlies and Clippers are battling for the right to be the No. 5 or 6 seed.
The No. 5 seed has no chance of securing homecourt advantage over either the Mavs or Spurs, but the No. 6 seed has a very real chance of having a better record than the Nugs. (I can see some of you thinking, "Didn't he just repeat what Cuban said?" Well, yes, I did, but I thought explaining it with real numbers -- and proper grammar -- might make it more clear.) And if that happens, why would either team try to win the rest of their games?