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NBA Standings: 2012 Eastern Conference Playoff Picture Takes Shape As Knicks Knock Off Bucks

The 2012 NBA Playoffs are only a few weeks away, but it appears the field in the Eastern Conference is just about set, at least in terms of which octet of teams will participate. After a big win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday, the New York Knicks seized the eighth seed with some authority by going up two games on the Bucks and taking the tie-breaker out of play. Now the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat will wait for the Philadelphia 76ers and Knicks to sort out the No. 7 and No. 8 spots and develop the postseason matchups.

Here is a look at the Eastern Conference playoff standings heading into Thursday's slate of games:

EASTERN W L PCT GB CONF
1 x - Chicago Bulls 44 14 0.759 - 33-8
2 x - Miami Heat 40 16 0.714 3 30-9
3 Indiana Pacers 36 22 0.621 8 24-17
4 Boston Celtics 34 24 0.586 10 27-13
5 Atlanta Hawks 34 24 0.586 10 27-15
6 Orlando Magic 34 24 0.586 10 27-16
7 Philadelphia 76ers 31 27 0.534 13 24-16
8 New York Knicks 30 28 0.517 14 23-18

Here is a rundown of the relevant tie-breaker rules (via NBA.com):

a. Two Teams Tied

b. More Than Two Teams Tied

(1) Better winning percentage in games against each other.

(1) Better winning percentage in all games among the tied teams.

(2) Better winning percentage against teams in own conference.

(2) Better winning percentage against teams in own conference.

(3) Better winning percentage against teams eligible for playoffs in own conference (including teams that finished the regular season tied for a playoff position).

(3) Better winning percentage against teams eligible for playoffs in own conference (including teams that finished the regular season tied for a playoff position).

(4) Better winning percentage against teams eligible for playoffs in opposite conference (including teams that finished the regular season tied for a playoff position).

(4) Better net result of total points scored less total points allowed against all opponents ("point differential").

(5) Better net result of total points scored less total points allowed against all opponents ("point differential").

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