As we head towards the final 24 hours of the NBA regular season, the playoff picture offers more certainty than normal. All of the Eastern Conference playoff spots have been claimed with only the specific order yet to be determined. The Western Conference is a little more fluid, but still only has one spot up for grabs.
Let's walk through what we know so far. The Toronto Raptors have secured the No. 1 seed in the East, while the Houston Rockets earned the top seed in the West. Houston would have home court if the two teams met in the 2018 NBA Finals. Boston has the No. 2 seed in the East, despite suffering a devastating blow with the loss of Kyrie Irving. The defending champion Warriors will not have home court advantage should they meet the Houston Rockets, but Golden State will be the No. 2 seed in the West. The remaining seeds will be determined in the final few regular season games.
All eyes will be on two key matchups on Wednesday night as the Nuggets take on the Timberwolves with the final Western Conference playoff spot likely on the line. Elsewhere in the West, the Jazz square off with the Blazers with the No. 3 seed available for the taking.
According to OddsShark, the Cavs are the favorites in Vegas to win the East at -105 despite likely entering the playoffs as the No. 4 seed. Toronto is next in line at +120, while Philadelphia is a distant third at +950. According to Vegas, the team that comes out of the West is the favorite to win the title. The Warriors are the favorites to repeat at -110, while the Rockets are next in line at +130. Cleveland stands in third at +600 in the latest odds.
Entering the postseason, injuries surround some of the NBA's top teams. Steph Curry will miss at least the Warriors first round matchup, with the potential for his absence to move into the second round. Irving will miss the remainder of the Celtics season, regardless of how far Boston can go in the playoffs. Marcus Smart is also sidelined leaving the Celtics very thin at point guard. Joel Embiid is still recovering from injury, but is expected to be back for the Sixers sometime in the first round.
Here's a rundown of the playoff tiebreaker procedures for two teams tied for seeding courtesy of the NBA.
"(1) Better winning percentage in games against each other. (2) Division winner (this criterion is applied regardless of whether the tied teams are in the same division). (3) Better winning percentage against teams in own division (only if tied teams are in same division). (4) Better winning percentage against teams in own conference. (5) Better winning percentage against teams eligible for playoffs in own conference (including teams that finished the regular season tied for a playoff position). (6) Better winning percentage against teams eligible for playoffs in opposite conference (including teams that finished the regular season tied for a playoff position). (7) Better net result of total points scored less total points allowed against all opponents (“point differential”)."
The following matchups are based on our projections for the remaining regular season NBA games. Click here to see the full current NBA playoff standings. All stats listed are as of Tuesday, April 10. You can click on the next button to go through all the projected playoff matchups, or click on the links below to view specific matchups.
No. 1 Toronto Raptors vs. No. 8 Miami Heat
No. 2 Boston Celtics vs. No. 7 Milwaukee Bucks
No. 3 Philadelphia Sixers vs. No. 6 Washington Wizards
No. 4 Cleveland Cavaliers vs. No. 5 Indiana Pacers
No. 1 Houston Rockets vs. No. 8 Minnesota Timberwolves
No. 2 Golden State Warriors vs. No. 7 San Antonio Spurs
No. 3 Utah Jazz vs. No. 6 Oklahoma City Thunder
No. 4 Portland Trail Blazers vs. No. 5 New Orleans Pelicans