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How Low Can They Go? (Updated)

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What's the best the Nets can do preparing for the May 20 lottery? In other words, how low can you go?

With a game left, there is little manuevering room...and right now, the most likely scenario is for the Nets to finish 10th in the lottery. They can't get to 9th, but they could get drop back into a tie for 10th and 11th. At 10th, New Jersey currrently has a 1.1% chance of getting the overall No. 1 and less than 4% of getting one of the top three.

Of the four possible outcomes involving the Nets and the team nearest them, the Pacers, the Nets stay in 10th in three of those outcomes. But if the Nets beat the Celtics in Boston and the Pacers lose to the Knicks in New York, the two teams will wind up tied at 35-47. The two teams would then share 19 ping pong balls (out of 1,000), the combined total for the 10th pick (11) and the 11th pick (8). On Thursday, the two teams would have to toss a coin for possession of that odd ping-pong ball, with the winning team team getting 10, the other 9. That would mean one team would have a 1% chance of getting the overall No. 1 pick and the other a 0.9% chance. Neither would have more than a 3% of getting one of the top three picks.

Since the advent of the latest lottery rules 14 years ago, NO team lower than 7th has ever won the overall No. 1. That jump of six places is also the biggest move up by any team in the lottery. That record is held by the Nets, who won the lottery in 2000 and took Kenyon Martin. The Grizzlies, who had the worst record that year and the most ping pong balls, wound up with the second pick. They took Stromile Swift. Position counts.

Finally, the Nets' other pick, obtained from the Mavs in the Jason Kidd trade, is not a given at #21. If the Mavs lose their season finale to the Hornets and the Nuggets beat the Grizzlies in theirs, both Wednesday, the two teams would be tied at 50-32 and a tie-breaking coin toss would be held Thursday for those positions as well.