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Three things to Know: Clippers control own destiny, Bucks top seed, latest playoff updates

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Kurt Helin and Corey Robinson debate what "most valuable" really means in the NBA, as Helin describes why he's struggling to decide on his Most Valuable Player along with Defensive Player of the Year.

Three Things To Know is NBC’s five-days-a-week wrap-up of the night before in the NBA. Check out NBCSports.com every weekday morning to catch up on what you missed the night before plus the rumors, drama, and dunks that make the NBA must-watch.

1) The latest playoff seeding news out of the Western Conference

Here is a quick update on the West playoff standings after a busy Wednesday night around the league.

• This quote summarizes where the Clippers and Lakers are mentally after Wednesday night.

“Wherever we end up, that’s where we end up, For us, it’s always about health,” LeBron James said.

That’s not the song the Lakers would have sung if they had won Wednesday night. However, LeBron and the Lakers were on the second night of a back-to-back while the Clippers had three days rest. This was a schedule-makers win for the Clippers, 135-118, but they will take it and say thank you (the Clips swept the season series from the Lakers for the second straight year).

The Clippers are now tied with the Warriors for the No. 5/6 seeds in the West, a full game up on the Lakers. With both the Warriors and Clippers having the tiebreaker over the Lakers, that one game they are back is really two with three games to play The only way for the Lakers to climb into the top six is the Clippers or Warriors losing out and the Lakers winning out.

• Denver is now locked in as the No.1 seed in the West after New Orleans beat the current No.2 seed Memphis. The Kings are two games back of Memphis with two to play for that second seed — the Kings would need to win out and the Grizzlies lose out for Memphis to fall out of second.

• That New Orleans win also moved them into a tie with the Lakers for the No.7/8 seeds in the West (Los Angeles has the tiebreaker), a full game up on Minnesota for those top two spots in the play-in. That matters a lot, the 7/8 seeds just need to win one of two games to make the playoffs, while the 9/10 seeds need to win two games without a loss (at least one of those will be on the road).

• Kyrie Irving going off for 19 points in the fourth quarter earned the Mavericks a win over the Kings and keeps the dream of making the play-in alive in Dallas. The Mavericks and Thunder are now tied for the No.10 seed and final play-in spot in the East, but Oklahoma City has the tiebreaker. If the Thunder win out in their last two games (at Utah, Memphis), they will be the No.10 seed. If the Thunder split those two games, the Mavericks must win both of their final games (Bulls, Spurs) to advance to the postseason. (Dallas would only need one win if OKC loses both of its last games.)

2) Bucks secure top seed, Celtics locked in as second out East

The East was always a little more settled than the West, but here are the takeaways.

• With their win over the Chicago Bulls, the Milwaukee Bucks officially secured the top seed in the East (and the NBA).

• Flowing out of that (and the Celtics’ win over the Raptors), the top five spots in the East are now locked in: Milwaukee is No.1, followed by Boston at No.2, Philadelphia at No.3, Cleveland at No.4 and the Knicks in fifth.

• Brooklyn’s magic number to secure the No.6 seed is one — one Nets win (Magic, 76ers) or one Heat loss (at 76ers, Wizards, Magic). At the same time, the Heat magic number is one to secure the No.7 seed.

• The Hawks have a one-game lead with two to play over the Raptors for the No.8 seed, and the Hawks have the tiebreaker (Atlanta’s magic number is one to secure the No.8 seed) at least.

• The Bulls are locked in as the No.10 seed.

3) Put on a pair of Jordans and go see “Air”

“Air” is worth putting on a pair of Jordans and heading to the theater this weekend.

I was fortunate to attend a screening recently of the Ben Affleck film starring Matt Damon as Sonny Vaccaro, the former Nike executive who led the charge for the then-smallish company known for running shoes to sign Michael Jordan to a shoe deal. Here are three reasons worth going.

1) It’s an entertaining telling of the story. This is not a movie about Jordan, if you want that re-watch “The Last Dance.” This is a movie about Nike and the drive to sign Jordan, and in that sense MJ is more the end of the quest (there are not a lot of Jordan highlights, and he himself is barely portrayed). Think of it this way: Raiders of the Lost Ark is not a movie about the Ark of the Covenant.

“Air” tells the Vaccaro version of how this went down — Phil Knight, Nike, and even Jordan can tell a version where Knight and others play a larger role — yet people I trust say this is the theme to believe. That said, like any Hollywood movie on historical events, it is fictionalized to a degree and is no documentary.

What this is really is an entertaining movie and a well-done bit of storytelling.

2) The performances are fantastic. Matt Damon sands the rough edges off Vaccaro and the actor’s likability (unless you’re Jimmy Kimmell) works here to keep the story moving. Jason Bateman is great as Rob Stasser. Chris Messina, playing Jordan’s agent David Falk, has the best scene in the film (when he loses it on the phone).

However, the best performance goes to Viola Davis as Deloris Jordan (Michael Jordan himself wanted her to play his mom, he was right). The movie also tells the often-forgotten part of this story: Deloris was the one who demanded her son get a piece of each shoe sold, not just a flat fee for endorsing the shoe. That was a radical change and made Jordan the kind of money where he could buy an NBA team one day.

3) This is a great 80s soundtrack. This will take you back to the 1980s more than the clothes, cars, or anything else. My wife and I had throwback moments with the soundtrack.