No games scheduled. The playoffs begin Thursday.

SENT PACKING

Coaches Bill Hanzlik of Denver and Bill Fitch of the Los Angeles Clippers were both fired Monday following dissapointing seasons with their respective clubs.

STATS

No. 5 seeds have had greater success than No. 4s in the NBA playoffs, winning 17 of 28 first-round series since the best-of-5 format was instituted in 1984.

STILL THE FAVORITE

Oddsmakers have made Chicago a 1-5 choice to win the East and a 1-2 favorite to win the NBA title. Utah is the second choice to win the title at 2-1, and New Jersey is the rank outsider at 150-1.

STUCK ON THE FLOOR

Seattle compiled 61 wins this season despite being the league's worst rebounding team. They were outrebounded in 52 games. No NBA championship club has ever finished last in rebounding during the regular season.

SPEAKING

``It'll be a mercenary, monetary challenge, a winner-take-all kind of playoffs.'' _ Chicago coach Phil Jackson on the expected tone of this year's postseason.