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NBA LOOKING AHEAD

Cavaliers, Celtics to meet in rankings-deciding battle

Sunday's game in Cleveland could decide who has the best overall record or who will take the No. 2 spot in the East.

April 12, 2009|Mark Heisler

Looking ahead

BOSTON AT CLEVELAND

12:30 p.m. today, Ch. 7

Actually, you can't be sure there is such a thing as a top attraction in the final week.

The Cavaliers, however, won't take the day off, because they don't take days off. They'll also be at home, in front of their frenzied fans, intent on running the table to finish 40-1 there.

Nor are the Celtics likely to mail this one in, as most teams in their position would, because they don't mail games in.

The Cavaliers need one win, or a Lakers loss, to lock up the best overall record, with two games left, at Indiana and against the 76ers at home.

The Celtics locked up the No. 2 seeding in the East with Orlando's loss to New Jersey on Saturday, but they still want to keep their momentum.

Who needs motivation? The sight of the other team will do fine.

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Quotage

Talk about a bad fit

Cedric Maxwell to the Boston Globe's Julian Benbow, on Bob McAdoo, who lived with him during his 20-game stint with the Celtics after being acquired from New York:

"I'm thinking he's going to stay with me a couple days before he gets an apartment. The man stayed 2 1/2 months and stayed on my couch because he hated the trade so much.

"He was like, 'I'm not giving these people one red cent.' "

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How they rank

Another one bites dust

Shaquille O'Neal, asked if Phoenix owner Bob Sarver wants to win or save money before the Suns' 140-116 loss in Dallas:

"I'm not sure. The guy over here [Mark Cuban] spends money. . . . I've been around 17 years, and that's what it is. You either want to win and don't really care about the salary cap, or you want to be under the salary cap."

SOS: Survivors of Shaq

New Jersey assistant Brian Hill, who coached Shaquille O'Neal in Orlando and is one of the few former coaches Shaq hasn't ripped . . . lately:

"I paid him to leave me alone. Actually, he did blast me once, but then he publicly apologized for it, which is also a first. I didn't pay extra for that."

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SO MUCH FOR THE PRELIMINARIES

1. CLEVELAND (64-15); On bright side for Lakers, maybe they can win another one there. (T1)

2. LAKERS (63-17); Good news: Haven't played their best. Bad news: Haven't played their best.(T1)

3. BOSTON (60-19); Oh, and I take back everything I said about Rondo, Davis, Powe, House... (T3)

4. ORLANDO (58-21); You'd like chances vs. Celtics at home--but home loss to Knicks ends that. (T3)

CAN STILL DREAM

5. PORTLAND (51-28); Lakers now biggest fans, hoping they get No. 2 or 3, out of their bracket. (T7)

6. HOUSTON (52-28) Curse of TMac: Can't get to next level with him, or without him. (T7);

7. DENVER (53-27); Must be better than they looked here. Thursday but that's not good enough. (T5)

8. SAN ANTONIO (51-28); Why they're great/doomed: Two days after he's yanked, Duncan plays 31 minutes. (T5)

9. DALLAS (48-31); Take a number: Shaq's way down their list which starts with Dallas native Bosh. (11)

10. NEW ORLEANS (48-31); Would they win 48 in still-balanced West with LeBron in CP3's place? (T7)

11. UTAH (47-32); Wasn't point of finishing first getting to play small fry in first round? (10)

BEEN DOWN SO LONG, LOOKS LIKE UP

12. ATLANTA (46-34); Door prize: Heat, 76ers vie for No. 5 to play Hawks, not Magic, in first round.(12)

13. MIAMI (41-38); What a duel: Heat just lost six of nine. (14)

14. PHILADELPHIA (40-39); What a duel: Meanwhile, 76ers lost four in row. (15)

15. CHICAGO (39-40); Back in playoffs: Next, hoping to trade for star who wants to play with Rose. (16)

16. DETROIT (39-40); Rebuilding or not, won't like first-round loss after six East Finals in row. (17)

COMERS/GOERS

17. PHOENIX (43-36); Lucky him: Gentry gets job next season with blindfold and last cigarette. (13)

18. CHARLOTTE (35-44); At their pace after Diaw arrived, would have gone 42-40, made playoffs. (18)

19. MILWAUKEE (32-47); For sale: High-priced Jefferson, Ridnour, perhaps even Redd. (22)

20. OKLAHOMA CITY (22-57); Welcome back: Livingston played 19 minutes in Miami, just went 27-27-17-18-24. (21)

21. NEW JERSEY (32-47); Lopez, No. 10 pick, making a lot of top threes in voting for top rookie. (23)

22. INDIANA (34-45); O'Brien: Dunleavy may be out until mid-season. Who knows where he'll be then?(19)

23. NEW YORK (31-49); Eclipsed by Steph, Krypton-Nate antics, big-time prospect Wilson Chandler. (24)

24. MEMPHIS (23-56); Good sign for talented kids: Hollins has them playing hard to end, going 6-3. (26)

25. MINNESOTA (24-55); Owner wants McHale back as coach only, passes over Kevin guys in GM search. (27)

WHERE DID WE GO WRONG? OH YEAH, NOV. 1

26. TORONTO (30-49); Will entertain offers for Bosh, who's likely to walk in a year. (20)

27. GOLDEN STATE (28-51); Quiet week but then Jackson, Ellis, Crawford and Maggette are out. (25)

28. WASHINGTON (19-61); If they played round-robin with Kings, Clippers, would anyone ever win? (28)

29. CLIPPERS (19-60); You hope Zach, a big playful kid too long, followed Adenhart tragedy closely. (29)

30. SACRAMENTO (16-63); At least no one will forget them: Before this, worst record in town was 24-58. (30)

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