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NBA Links: The Eastern Conference playoff race and Nowitzki surpasses 30,000 points

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Hump day, here we go.

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Indiana Pacers Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

NBA playoff picture from Matt Moore

The race for the final playoff spots (6-8) in the Eastern Conference should be pretty entertaining, but then again, the NCAA tournament will get most of our attention for the next several weeks (Go Blue! Go Green!). Sure, if you have time, pay attention to the Pistons main competition for seeding down the stretch.

The Pistons have clawed their way back up out of the bubble and into the 7th spot after the win Monday night vs. Chicago, which gave them a 2-1 lead for tiebreaker over the Bulls. But they have six back to backs remaining, including games vs. Cleveland, Toronto, and Washington. Their schedule has more road games (10) than home (9) and their whole team feels like a house of cards in terms of team chemistry.

Seems the Chicago Bulls should be able to at least hold on for the No. 8 seed, then?

The Bulls are either going to surge into the playoffs, or crash into the sea in a blaze of glorious flaming disaster. Their last six opponents are New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, Brooklyn, Orlando, and the Nets again. They are 16-18 vs. sub-.500 teams this season. These are the exact games you want if you’re in this position, and the exact games the Bulls lose.

Oh. Well, how about that pesky team from Florida called the Miami Heat?

They have 11 of their final 18 at home. They have just three back to backs. They have the easiest schedule overall of any team outside of Boston and Toronto in the East. Their closing three-game set of Wizards-Cavs-Wizards could be vs. three teams locked in their seeds and resting players. This has worked out beautifully.

The Indiana Pacers are looking as pretty as a 32-31 team can possibly look:

Indiana is trying to stabilize after another rough patch, but I might consider them the favorite for the five-seed, based on all conditions. They only have three more back to backs, and two of those are at home. They play a balanced schedule overall that features a lot of basement dwellers; they have Philadelphia twice and Orlando in between tougher games. They’re going to control their destiny with a tiebreaker game vs. the Hawks on the last night of the season.

GAME NIGHT: Pacers looking for season sweep of Pistons

The key to the game for Detroit is to stop Paul George from putting the ball through the hoop too often. More so, this game should really tell us how focused the Pistons are heading into the crunchtime portion of the schedule.

Indiana has won all three matchups against the Pistons this year, and will try to complete the season sweep on Wednesday. A season series sweep by Indiana has only happened two other times in the history of these franchises.

George has been on fire in his last two games, averaging 35 points and shooting over 60 percent from the field. George has also played very well against the Pistons this season, averaging 26.3 points in the previous three games.

Pretty damn cool — Dirk Nowitzki hits and surpasses 30,000 points Tuesday night

Pure Dirk on these shots:

Crazy NBA facts from the past 14 seasons

Statistics Professor David Beaudoin (aka Professor MJ) from Laval University in Quebec City, Canada, did some big-time research on the NBA and is keen to display it. It’s a 6-article series looking at fun stuff such as, "Over the past 14 NBA seasons, who were the most/least "clutch" teams?" and "Over the past 14 NBA seasons, is there evidence of game momentum?" Check out all of Professor Beaudoin’s articles and other stats work at his website.

For those of you local-ish who are willing to mingle and feel some Pistons tingle this Saturday with fellow Pistons fans @ Bogartz

In other words, remember to RSVP for the DBB geek/freak game night, hosted by Christopher Daniels and Chris Saucier this Saturday (March 11th, 2017) at Bogartz on the Detroit/Grosse Pointe border. Festivities (i.e., hugs, group hugs) will tip-off around 4 p.m. in anticipation for the Pistons-Knicks game at 5 p.m.

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.500 is so close I can taste it! I think this calls for some carrots and dip in front of the tube!