NBA Postseason Picture: Updated Magic Numbers, Key Matchups, Clinching Scenarios

NBA Postseason Picture: Updated Magic Numbers, Key Matchups, Clinching Scenarios article feature image

The NBA postseason race is shaping up to be an all-timer through the end of the regular season with one week to go.

Here’s your guide to the NBA postseason picture.

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Eastern Conference

Click here for projected wins in the East
StandingsMoore's Projected Wins
1. Milwaukee Bucks58.7
2. Boston Celtics56.7
3. Philadelphia 76ers53.7
4. Cleveland Cavaliers51.7
5. New York Knicks47.5
6. Brooklyn Nets45.6
7. Miami Heat43.5
8. Atlanta Hawks41.5
9. Toronto Raptors40.4
10. Chicago Bulls39.5
11. Orlando Magic35.4
12. Washington Wizards35.4
13. Indiana Pacers34.3
14. Charlotte Hornets26.3
15. Detroit Pistons17.3

WHAT WE KNOW

  • The Bucks are the 1-seed, they clinched it on Wednesday night.
  • The Celtics are the 2-seed, they clinched that with their win Wednesday.
  • The Sixers have clinched the third seed.
  • The Cavaliers will be 4th, they have clinched it and the Sixers have clinched top-3. The Knicks will be 5th, they have clinched the 5th seed. We'll see Cavs-Knicks in the first round.
  • Heat clinched 7th on Friday, Hawks clinched 8th, Raptors 9th.
  • 1. Bucks 2. Celtics 3. Sixers 4. Cavaliers 5. Knicks 6. Nets 7. Heat 8. Hawks 9. Raptors 10. Bulls. That's the East.

Click here to skip ahead to the West
Western Conference

No. 1

Milwaukee Bucks

Click here for magic numbers & key games
2023 Record: 58-23
Magic No. for Playoffs: CLINCHED
Magic No. for Home Court Rd. 1: CLINCHED
Magic No. for Home Court in East: CLINCHED

Key Games on the Schedule

Milwaukee surged in the second half of the season and have clinched the No.1 seed and homecourt throughout the playoffs, including the Finals.

They will likely face one of the Raptors, Bulls, or Hawks, and all three teams seem outmatched by Milwaukee, but Toronto does have a history of causing trouble, and Chicago beat the Bucks twice this season.


No. 2

Boston Celtics

Click here for magic numbers & key games
2023 Record: 56-25
Magic No. for Playoffs: CLINCHED
Magic No. for Home Court Rd. 1: CLINCHED

Key Games on the Schedule

There have been three versions of the Celtics this season: the best team in the league for the first two months of the season, a team that lost its way for about three weeks, and then a team that settled back into its identity as a top-five offensive and defensive team, even if the offense regressed back to normalcy.

Boston's path will be the winner of the 7-8 play-in, and then the winner of the Sixers-Nets matchup, with Philadelphia most likely advancing.

The Celtics have historically dominated Joel Embiid, but the Sixers did get a win this week behind 52 from Joel Embiid.

Relevant tiebreakers: CLINCHED tiebreaker over Bucks | CLINCHED tiebreaker over Sixers


No. 3

Philadelphia 76ers

Click here for magic numbers & key games
2023 Record: 52-28
Magic No. for Playoffs: CLINCHED
Magic No. for Home Court Rd. 1: CLINCHED

Key Games on the Schedule

The 76ers have clinched a playoff spot and the third seed.

The Sixers will likely face the Nets in the first round, which might honestly be easier than the Bucks or Celtics will face. However, don't be surprised if Brooklyn's three-point shooting causes a little mayhem in a game or two.

Relevant tiebreakers: CLINCHED tiebreaker over Cavaliers | Lead Bucks 2-1 with one to play | LOST tiebreaker to Celtics


No. 4

Cleveland Cavaliers

Click here for magic numbers & key games
2023 Record: 51-30
Magic No. for Playoffs: CLINCHED
Magic No. for Home Court Rd. 1: CLINCHED

Key Games on the Schedule

The Cavaliers have clinched the 4th seed. They're locked in and will face the Knicks. 

Relevant tiebreakers: LOST tiebreaker to the Knicks | LOST tiebreaker to Sixers | CLINCHED tiebreaker over Nets | SPLIT with Heat


No. 5

New York Knicks

Click here for magic numbers & key games
2023 Record: 47-33
Magic No. for Playoffs: CLINCHED
Magic No. for Play-In: CLINCHED

Key Games on the Schedule

The Knicks have clinched the 5th seed. They're locked in and will face the Cavaliers in Round 1.

Relevant tiebreakers: Lead Cavaliers 2-1 with one to play | Lead Heat 2-1 with one to play | SPLIT with Nets


No. 6

Brooklyn Nets

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2023 Record: 45-36
Magic No. for Playoffs: CLINCHED
Magic No. for Play-In: CLINCHED

The Nets clinched 7th Friday with their win. They will face the Sixers in the first round.

Relevant tiebreakers: LOST Tiebreaker with Cavaliers | CLINCHED over Heat | SPLIT 2-2 with Knicks


No. 7

Miami Heat

Click here for magic numbers & key games
2023 Record: 43-38
Magic No. for Play-In: CLINCHED

The Heat had a chance to really push for a top-six seed but stumbled a few too many times. They are locked in as the 7th seed and will host the Hawks in the 7-8. If they win, they will face the Celtics. If they lose, they'll host the winner of Raptors-Bulls for the 8th seed and a spot vs. the Bucks.

Relevant tiebreakers: LOST tiebreaker to Knicks| LOST tiebreaker to Raptors | LOST tiebreaker to Nets | CLINCHED series with Hawks | SPLIT Series with Cavaliers


No. 8

Atlanta Hawks

Click here for magic numbers & key games
2023 Record: 41-40
Magic No. for Play-In: CLINCHED

Atlanta, one of the most disappointing teams this season, clinched the 8th seed with the Raptors loss Friday. They'll play Miami in the 7-8 and play Boston if they win. If they lose, they'll face the Raptors-Bulls winner for the 8th seed and a matchup with Milwaukee.

Relevant tiebreakers:  SPLIT with Bulls | LOST to Nets | Lead Wizards 2-1 with one to play | LOST series to Heat | CLINCHED tiebreaker over Raptors


No. 9

Toronto Raptors

Click here for magic numbers & key games
2023 Record: 40-41
Magic No. for Play-In: CLINCHED

Toronto was waxed by the Celtics Friday and in doing so clinched the 9th spot. They'll face the Bulls in the lower play-in game. They are 5-point favorites in that game Tuesday. If they win, they'll face the loser of Miami-Atlanta for a spot vs. Milwaukee.

Relevant tiebreakers: CLINCHED over Heat | CLINCHED tiebreaker over Wizards | LOST series to Pacers | CLINCHED tiebreaker over Bulls | LOST series to Hawks


No. 10

Chicago Bulls

Click here for magic numbers & key games
2023 Record: 38-42
Magic No. for Play-In: CLINCHED

The Bulls are locked into 10th. They'll travel to Toronto to face the Bulls. If they win, they'll face the loser of Miami-Atlanta for the 8th seed and a matchup with Milwaukee.

Relevant tiebreakers: SPLIT with Hawks | LOST series to Raptors | SPLIT with Wizards | CLINCHED over Heat | LOST series to Pacers


Western Conference

Click here for projected wins in the West
TeamMoore's Projected Wins
1. Denver Nuggets52.6
2. Memphis Grizzlies51.6
3. Sacramento Kings48.6
4. Phoenix Suns45.6
5. Los Angeles Clippers43.6
6. Golden State Warriors43.6
7. Los Angeles Lakers42.6
8. New Orleans Pelicans42.5
9. Minnesota Timberwolves41.1
10. Oklahoma City Thunder39.9
11. Dallas Mavericks38.6
12. Utah Jazz37.5
13. Portland Trail Blazers33.3
14. San Antonio Spurs21.2
15. Houston Rockets21.2

WHAT WE KNOW

  • The Nuggets have clinched the 1-seed. 
  • The Grizzlies will be the 2-seed, the Kings the 3-seed, and the Suns the 4-seed.
  • The Spurs, the Rockets, the Jazz, Blazers, and, unbelievably, the Mavericks won’t make the postseason.
  • That’s it. That’s all we know in the West: Nuggets 1, Grizzlies 2, Kings 3, Suns 4, no Blazers, Jazz, Rockets, Spurs, or Mavericks, and everything else is chaos.

WHAT WE DON’TThat whole mess between 5 and 9 in the West. Here's a tiebreaker chart.

WarriorsClippersLakersPelicansWolves
WWWWL
5. Clippers
6. Warriors
7. Lakers
8. Pelicans
9. Wolves
WWWLW
5. Clippers
6. Warriors
7. Lakers
8. Wolves
9. Pelicans
WWLWL
5. Clippers
6. Warriors
7. Pelicans
8. Lakers
9. Wolves
WWLLW
5. Clippers
6. Warriors
7. Wolves
8. Lakers
9. Pelicans
WLWWL
5. Warriors
6. Pelicans
7. Clippers
8. Lakers 9. Wolves
WLWLW
5. Warriors
6. Clippers
7. Lakers
8. Wolves
9. Pelicans
WLLWL
5. Warriors
6. Pelicans
7. Clippers
8. Lakers
9. Wolves
WLLLW
5. Warriors
6. Clippers
7. Wolves
8. Lakers
9. Pelicans
LWWWL
5. Clippers
6. Lakers
7. Pelicans
8. Warriors
9. Wolves
LWWLW
5. Clippers
6. Lakers
7. Warriors
8. Wolves
9. Pelicans
LWLWL
5. Clippers
6. Pelicans
7. Warriors
8. Lakers
9. Wolves
LWLLW
5. Clippers
6. Warriors
7. Wolves
8. Lakers
9. Pelicans
LLWWL
5. Pelicans
6. Clippers
7. Lakers
8. Warriors
9. Wolves
LLWLW
5. Clippers
6. Lakers
7. Warriors
8. Wolves
9. Pelicans
LLLWL
5. Pelicans
6. Warriors
7. Clippers
8. Lakers
9. Wolves
LLLLW
5. Clippers
6. Warriors
7. Wolves
8. Lakers
9. Pelicans

To simplify things:

  • The best the Pels can finish is 5th, the worst is 9th.
  • The best the Wolves can finish is 7th, the worst is 9th.
  • The best the Lakers can finish is 6th, the worst they can finish is 8th.
  • The best the Clippers can finish is 5th, the worst is 7th.
  • The best the Warriors can finish is 5th, the worst is 8th.
  • If the Wolves win, the Pels can't finish ahead of them, so they get 9th.
  • If the Clippers win, they will be 5th and face Phoenix.
  • If the Clippers and Warriors win, Clippers face Phoenix, Warriors face Kings.
  • If only one of the Clippers or Warriors lose, the other will face Phoenix as 5th.
  • If both of them lose… it gets really messy really quickly.

Click here to jump back to the East
Eastern Conference

No. 1

Denver Nuggets

Click here for magic numbers & key games
2023 Record: 52-29
Magic No. for Playoffs: CLINCHED
Magic No. for Home Court Rd. 1: CLINCHED
Magic No. for Home Court in the West: 1

Key Games on the Schedule

Apr. 9vs

Sacramento Kings

The Nuggets have clinched the No.1 seed.

That might not be a good thing, as there’s a strong chance the No. 4 vs. No. 5  matchup is Suns-Warriors, Suns-Lakers, or Suns-Clippers. But for Denver, home court is vital. They’ve lost four times at home in the last three months.

Relevant tiebreakers: Tied 1-1 with Kings, one to play | CLINCHED tiebreaker over Grizzlies


No. 2

Memphis Grizzlies

Click here for magic numbers & key games
2023 Record: 51-30
Magic No. for Playoffs: CLINCHED
Magic No. for Home Court Rd. 1: CLINCHED

The Grizzlies have clinched the 2-seed and will face the winner of the 7-8 play-in game.

Relevant tiebreakers:  LOST tiebreaker to Nuggets | SPLIT tiebreaker with Kings |


No. 3

Sacramento Kings

Click here for magic numbers & key games
2023 Record: 48-33
Magic No. for Playoffs: CLINCHED
Magic No. for Home Court Rd. 1: CLINCHED

The Kings have clinched the 3-seed.


No. 4

Phoenix Suns

Click here for magic numbers & key games
2023 Record: 45-35
Magic No. for Playoffs: CLINCHED
Magic No. for Home Court Rd. 1: CLINCHED

The Suns have clinched a playoff spot and the 4th seed. They can't go higher or lower. They have head to head tiebreaker over the Warriors, the Clippers can only split season series and catch in division tiebreaker only to lose on conference record tiebreaker.

Relevant tiebreakers: Lead Clippers 2-1 with one to play | SPLIT with Kings | CLINCHED vs. Thunder | Lead Lakers 2-1 with one to play | SPLIT with Grizzlies | SPLIT with Mavericks | CLINCHED tiebreaker over Warriors | CLINCHED tiebreaker over Wolves


No. 5

Los Angeles Clippers

Click here for magic numbers & key games
2023 Record: 42-38
Magic No. for Playoffs: 1

Key Games on the Schedule

Apr. 9at

Phoenix Suns

The Clippers have clinched no-worse than 7th. Sunday will be interesting as they monitor other scores with a chance to avoid Phoenix but the most likely scenario sees them winning over Phoenix and facing them in the playoffs.

The Clippers have clinched tiebreaker over the Warriors based on division record.

Relevant tiebreakers: Lead Suns 2-1 with one to play | SPLIT with Mavericks | LOST tiebreaker to Wolves | SPLIT with Warriors | LOST tiebreaker to Jazz | CLINCHED tiebreaker over Lakers | SPLIT with Thunder | LOST to Pelicans


No. 6

Golden State Warriors

Click here for magic numbers & key games
2023 Record: 43-38
Magic No. for Playoffs: 1
Magic No. for Play-In: Clinched

The Warriors have clinched no-worse than 8th, but they have the most to lose Sunday in terms of standings. They'll need to beat the Blazers to avoid the possibility of a play-in spot.

Relevant tiebreakers:  CLINCHED vs. Mavericks | CLINCHED vs. Clippers | Up 2-1 on Kings, one to play | SPLIT with Mavericks | LOST tiebreaker to Suns


No. 7

Los Angeles Lakers

Click here for magic numbers & key games
2023 Record: 42-38
Magic No. for Playoffs: (Need Help)
Magic No. for Play-In: CLINCHED

The Lakers are back.

They have clinched a play-in spot, and there are a number of ways they can sneak into a playoff spot outright. Not only that, but they would get the desirable 6th seed and a Kings matchup first round. The Lakers need to win and hope for a Warriors loss. They lose three-way tiebreakers with the Clippers after going 0-4 against them this season. The most likely scenarios is the Lakers host the 7-8 play-in spot vs. the Pelicans or Wolves.

Relevant tiebreakers: CLINCHED tiebreaker over Thunder | LOST series to Mavericks | LOST tiebreaker to Clippers | LOST tiebreaker to Wolves | CLINCHED tiebreaker over Warriors | CLINCHED over Pelicans


No. 9

New Orleans Pelicans

Click here for magic numbers & key games
2023 Record: 41-39
Magic No. for Playoffs: (Need Help)
Magic No. for Play-In: CLINCHED

There is one ideal scenario for the Pelicans. A Warriors win, a Clippers loss, and a Pelicans win puts the Clippers and Pels in a tiebreaker, and the Pels win every scenario in that situation. They would then face the Kings in 6th.

Relevant tiebreakers: Tied 1-1 with Wolves, one to play | SPLIT with Warriors | CLINCHED over Clippers | SPLIT with Mavericks | LOST tiebreaker to Jazz | LOST tiebreaker with Lakers


No. 8

Minnesota Timberwolves

Click here for magic numbers & key games
2023 Record: 41-40
Magic No. for Play-In: CLINCHED

You realize that if the Wolves hadn't lost to the Blazers, they'd be very likely staring at a chance to get 6th? Yeesh.

If they beat the Pelicans Sunday, they clinch tiebreaker and tie New Orleans, going over them in the process. If they win and the Lakers lose, they can leap the Lakers with tiebreaker too.

Relevant tiebreakers: SPLIT 2-2 with Golden State | LOST tiebreaker to Suns |  CLINCHED tiebreaker over Mavericks | CLINCHED tiebreaker over Clippers | CLINCHED tiebreaker over Lakers | Clinched tiebreaker over Thunder


No. 10

Oklahoma City Thunder

Click here for magic numbers & key games
2023 Record: 39-42
Magic No. for Play-In: CLINCHED

OKC is locked into the 10th spot because… well, the Mavericks gave up.

Relevant tiebreakers: Down 1-2 to Suns, one to play | Down 1-2 to Warriors, one to play | LOST to Lakers | CLINCHED tiebreaker over Mavericks | CLINCHED tiebreaker over Clippers | LOST tiebreaker to Wolves


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