The races at the top of the conferences and battles for playoff positioning haven’t left us with much to get excited about on the final day of the lockout-shortened 2011-2012 NBA regular season.

But for fans in New Orleans, Sacramento, Cleveland, New Jersey Brooklyn, Golden State and Toronto, what happens on the final day of the regular season could shape the future of each franchise.

Heading into Thursday’s slate of 13 games, the Bobcats and their potentially worst record of all time have locked up the NBA’s 30th seed, and a 25 per cent chance of winning the Draft Anthony Davis lottery. The Wizards, meanwhile, are locked into the 29th spot, and a 19.9 per cent chance of winning the Unibrow sweepstakes.

Where it gets interesting is that the Hornets, Kings, Cavaliers, Raptors and Nets are separated by just one total game between third-worst and seventh-worst in the league standings. In terms of lottery percentages, that’s the difference between a 15.6 per cent chance and a 4.3 per cent chance.

The Raps, Nets and Warriors are separated by just one game between sixth-worst and eighth-worst, which would be the difference between a 6.3 per cent chance of winning the lottery and a 2.8 per cent chance.

From a Toronto perspective, the Raptors and Nets head into their season finale matchup tied at 22-43. Whichever team wins that game will either finish seventh-worst or in a tie with the Warriors for seventh and eighth-worst. The losing team, on the other hand, would still have an outside chance at a four-way tie for the league’s third-worst record.

If you’re wondering, in the event of a tie in the “lottery standings,” the tied teams would share the total number of combinations that the positions take up. So, for example, if the third-worst team gets 156 combinations, the fourth-worst gets 119 combinations, the fifth-worst gets 88 and the sixth-worst gets 63 combinations, that’s 426 total combos to be shared among four teams (106.5 each).

However, according to the NBA Draft Lottery’s wiki page, “Should the average number not be an integer, a coin flip is then used to determine which team or teams receive the extra combination(s). The result of the coin flip is also used to determine who receives the earlier pick in the event that neither of the tied teams wins one of the first three picks via the lottery.

Based on how confusing some of this can become, the fact that certain slottings may come down to a coin flip, and the fact that we don’t really know which combination will come up on lottery night, I’m not going to come out and start talking about how this is a “must-lose” game for the Raptors (or Nets).

Example, imagine the Raptors win tonight, finish with the seventh-worst record, but then end up with some lottery luck and snag a top-three pick. Well anything outside of a top-three pick means New Jersey’s pick goes to Portland (because of the Gerald Wallace deadline day trade), so the Nets would then be left to think about how a win in game no. 82 actually would have saved their pick.

The point being that while I obviously want the Raptors to finish with the best possible chance at winning the lottery, or at the very least moving up, I’m just as worried about being careful what I wish for when at the end of the day, we’re dealing with a lottery.

Here’s how the schedule looks for the teams Raptors fans should be keeping an eye on tonight:

Nets @ Raptors (22 wins each) 7 p.m.

Hornets: 21 wins, @ Houston 8 p.m.

Kings: 21 wins, hosting the Lakers 10:30 p.m.

Cavs: 21 wins, @ Chicago 8:00 p.m.

Warriors: 23 wins, hosting the Spurs 10:30 p.m.

And here’s the breakdown of the lottery percentages for the positions the Raptors can finish in:

3rd-worst: 156 combinations, 15.6% chance

4th-worst: 119 combinations, 11.9% chance

5th-worst: 88 combinations, 8.8% chance

6th-worst: 63 combinations, 6.3% chance

7th-worst: 43 combinations, 4.3% chance

8th-worst: 28 combinations, 2.8% chance

Best case scenario, if the Raptors lose to the Nets and get wins from New Orleans, Sacramento and Cleveland, they’ll end up with a 10.65 % chance to win the lottery.

Worst case scenario, if the Raps win and the Warriors lose to the Spurs, they’ll end up with a 3.55 % chance.

I heard History Television may televise these games tonight instead of running an episode of Greatest Tank Battles.

Comments (7)

  1. It’s not just the lottery odds that are at stake with tomorrow’s game, but actual draft positioning. Odds are the Raps will not win the lottery. So would you rather have the 6th selection (potentially even higher) or the 8th?

  2. Raps should have moved the game to a 10 pm start. All of the other teams playing tonight will know if the tank stakes have been upped from the outcome of the Raptors/Nets game.

    MUST LOST GAME RAPTORS. Swallow your foolish pride and do what is best for the team!
    Lose!

    THE TRUE FANS WANT YOU TO LOSE THIS FINAL GAME!!!

  3. This could be an ugly game tonight, and I’m really hoping the Raptors lose this game. But really, does anyone actually expect Casey to go out there and try and purposely lose tonight?

  4. The Raps have very clearly been tanking recently. Calderon could play but they’re keeping him out. DeRozan sat out the 4th Q a couple of games ago, and the most obvious sign of all is Alabi getting heavy minutes. Casey is still trying to win with the guys he’s playing, but he’s not trying to win.

    Those wins against Boston and Atlanta may cost the tank dearly.

  5. the nets are sitting deron williams, gerald wallace, kris humphries, and shelden williams tonight

    good game

  6. If it comes down to a coin flip, will the coin flip be televised? and what determines which team is ‘heads’ and which team is ‘tails’? do they use a special coin or something? That would be fun to watch a ‘coin flip’ on TV for who gets an earlier pick in the draft. Or do they just announce the results during the draft lottery day?

    • It’s definitely not televised, though that would be fun for fans in cities where the flip meant something. I believe we would find out some time around the lottery date.

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