NBA Standings & Playoff Picture: Projected Seeds, Odds to Make Postseason and More
Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Luka Doncic #77 of the Dallas Mavericks.
The NBA season ends Sunday and the NBA Playoffs are just one week away. With just three days left, teams are battling to the finish for seeding, home court, preferred matchups, and to make it in, or out, of the play-in tournament.
This season the playoff picture looks a bit different with the play-in tournament added. The teams that finish in seventh and eighth in each conference will play for the No. 7 seed; the loser will face the winner of the No. 9 vs. No. 10 matchup for the eighth and final spot in each conference. And based on where things stand, games on Saturday and Sunday will have a huge impact on how the play-in shapes up.
Here’s a look at where the eight teams are currently slated to land in the play-in tournament and their odds to make the playoffs.
Western Conference Playoff Standings
Eastern Conference Playoff Standings
NBA Playoff Picture
Using our projections, we’ve predicted how the playoff standings would shake out based on simulating the final games of the regular season.
Here’s a look at where the NBA Playoff picture stands as of today:
Based on our model, here are the results of where each team is expected to land and the most likely first-round playoff matchups in each conference:
Projected Eastern Conference Matchups
Projected Western Conference Matchups
- Philly’s loss on Thursday to Miami opens the door a crack for the Nets or Bucks to get the No. 1 seed. It would require the Sixers to lose to the Orlando Magic twice, but it’s still technically possible. In all likelihood, though, the Sixers will clinch Friday. Philly can still finish No. 1 in most circumstances, but they need to win at least once vs. the tanking Magic.
- The Nets are one game up on the Bucks, but Bucks have tiebreaker. If the Nets go 1-1 and Bucks 2-0, or Nets go 0-2 and Bucks go 1-1 (or 2-0) then Bucks will finish ahead of them. The Bucks also have tiebreaker over the Sixers, but again, the Sixers have to lose both to Orlando for that to matter.
- Our sims have the Hawks-Knicks the most likely outcome for the No. 4 vs. No. 5 series, but it’s very much up in the air. The Heat control their own destiny for the fifth seed after last night’s win vs. the Sixers. Here’s the important things to keep in mind: The Knicks have tiebreaker over the Hawks. The Hawks have tiebreaker over the Heat. The Heat have tiebreaker over the Knicks.
- In a three-way tie, the Hawks win it by winning division title, and then Heat win over Knicks with head to head. If you’re a Knicks fan, you want the Heat to lose at least once. If that happens, Knicks control destiny for the fourth seed. If you’re a Hawks fan, you want the Knicks to lose at least once. Then you clinch at least the 4-5 matchup with a win Sunday. If you’re a Heat fan, you want to win your final two. Do that, and you are locked into the 4-5 matchup.
- The Celtics are locked into the seventh seed.
- The Hornets and Pacers can finish anywhere between No. 8 and 10th. The Wizards have not yet clinched a play-in spot. If they lose out and the Bulls win out, Chicago sneaks into the 10th seed.
- If Utah finishes 2-0, they’re the No. 1 seed, no matter what. If they finish 1-1, the Suns can go 2-0 and catch them for the No. 1 seed, pushing the Jazz to the No. 2-spot (and potentially facing the Lakers in the first round).
- If the Suns go 0-2, the Clippers can catch them by going 2-0, moving them into the second spot. Will the Clippers do that if it means potentially facing the Lakers in Round 1? Can they avoid it by losing to the Rockets or Thunder? How hard must one tank to do so?
- The Nuggets, believe it or not, are still not out of it for the No. 3 seed. If the Clippers go 0-2 and Denver goes 1-1, or if the Clippers go 1-1 and Denver goes 2-0, Denver passes the Clippers for the No. 3 seed.
- Here’s where it gets bizarre. Denver’s final game is Sunday vs. the Trail Blazers. If they win, there’s a decent chance that they will knock the Blazers back into the seventh spot and the play-in, moving the Lakers up into the No. 6 seed. But if the Nuggets win and the Clippers lose one of their games, the Nuggets could risk moving into the No. 3 seed … and facing the Lakers in the No. 3 vs. No. 6 series.
- Dallas clinches a playoff spot with a win in either of their final two games. If they go 0-2, it’s possible for the Lakers and Blazers to both leap them and for Dallas to finish seventh.
- Sunday’s Grizzlies-Warriors game is effectively a play-in game. That will sort out No. 8 and No. 9, regardless of Friday’s games. They are currently tied and the last game is for tiebreaker. If the Grizzlies win Friday and the Warriors lose, then the Warriors can win Sunday, tie it, and secure tiebreaker.
- The Spurs have clinched the 10th seed after the Kings lost to the Grizzlies.