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NBA Playoff Picture 2012: After New York Knicks Loss, Orlando Magic Closer to Clinching East's Sixth Seed

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Mandatory Credit: Eric P. Mull-USPRESSWIRE
Mandatory Credit: Eric P. Mull-USPRESSWIRE

The Cleveland Cavaliers upset the New York Knicks on Friday night, 98-90, to snap a three-game losing streak and drop the Knicks' record to 33-30. The loss also drops the Orlando Magic's so-called magic number to clinch the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference to one. If Orlando wins just one more game, or if New York loses just once, then the Magic can finish no worse than sixth in the East. Put another way, the only circumstance in which Orlando will drop to seventh is if it loses out and the Knicks win out.

The East's sixth-seeded team will take on the Indiana Pacers in the first round of the playoffs, thus avoiding the far more proven Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls, and Boston Celtics. The Magic won three of their four games against the Pacers in the lockout-shortened campaign, while New York won two of three.

But Orlando's task against the Pacers in the postseason, should they indeed meet, will prove far more difficult. All-Star center Dwight Howard will miss the rest of the season due to back surgery, while the chances of Hedo Turkoglu recovering from facial surgery in time to play in the first round are slim.

The Magic's season winds down with back-to-back road games against the Utah Jazz and Denver Nuggets, a home finale against the Charlotte Bobcats, and a road date with the Memphis Grizzlies. New York's scheduled to finish its season at the Atlanta Hawks, a home contest against the Los Angeles Clippers, and a road game against Charlotte.

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