The Indiana Pacers and Milwaukee Bucks close the regular season on Wednesday night in what appears to be a meaningless regular season finale.
Although a quick glance at the Eastern Conference standings reveals that this game will impact the final standings and more importantly the NBA draft lottery and selection order for the NBA draft.
Heading into Wednesday night's actions, the Pacers and Charlotte Bobcats both have a 35-46 records, while the Bucks and New Jersey Nets are a game behind at 34-47. Charlotte plays an Orlando Magic team prepping for the playoffs and resting key players. The Nets play the New York Knicks who appear to have perfected their tanking skills.
So does anyone want to win? Does it matter?
If your only concern is the best possible draft position, then consider a scenario where the Pacers and Bobcats lose and the Bucks and Nets win. That would create a four-way tie for draft positions 10 thru 13. While the NBA uses the luck of the draw to break ties in the draft order, the tiebreakers are done after the draft lottery.
For the lottery, the four teams would split the available lottery chances for positions 10-13. Here is a quick look at the number of lottery chances for those positions and the chances for winning the lottery for each:
As for the draft position, let's say the Pacers win the tiebreaker drawing and suddenly have the 10th pick in the draft instead of the 13th. No brainer, right? Consider yourself lucky and happily move up four slots in the draft and have a shot at a better player.
Well...let's not rush to the obvious answer so quickly.
What if the Pacers are picking 10th but with the way the draft falls, the big man or point guard they covet is still be available at 13? Sure they could trade down but there's no guarantee a trade would work out. Plus, every penny counts so (based on last year's scale), the Pacers would have to pay roughly $250,000 per year more for the 10th pick than they would for the 13th pick.
Would the talent difference between the picks be worth it if the draft remains as thin as it appears to be at this point?
So you see, there are all kinds of wild scenarios riding on the outcome of the Pacers/Bucks game tomorrow night. Considering there are three games tomorrow and then two separate blind drawings involved, which in the end offer a minimal chance to move up in the draft as a best case scenario, playing hard and letting the chips fall where they may seems pretty reasonable since most of the factors involved are out of the Pacers' hands regardless of whether they win or lose.