NBA Playoff Standings 2023: Latest Play-in Picture and Predicting Final Seedings
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The Los Angeles Clippers delivered a statement win in the Western Conference playoff hunt on Wednesday night.
The Clippers defeated the Los Angeles Lakers to remain in the top six in the West standings and to keep the Lakers in the play-in positions with two games left in the regular season.
The Lakers dropped into a tie with the New Orleans Pelicans on record. They are in front for the No. 7 seed because of their 3-1 head-to-head mark over the Pelicans.
On the other end of the play-in standings, the Dallas Mavericks picked up a vital win behind a tremendous fourth-quarter performance from Kyrie Irving.
Dallas is still on the outside looking in at the Oklahoma City Thunder for 10th place, but the win at least put the Mavs in a position to strike if the Thunder’s losing run continues.
The Eastern Conference play-in race got even tamer on Wednesday following the results for three of the four teams sitting from seventh to 10th.
The top five seeds in the East are confirmed, and one more Brooklyn Nets victory would confirm all four play-in participants before the final day of the NBA regular season on Sunday.
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1. Milwaukee (58-22)
2. Boston (55-25)
3. Philadelphia (52-27)
4. Cleveland (50-30)
5. New York (47-33)
6. Brooklyn (44-36)
7. Miami (42-37)
8. Atlanta (41-39)
9. Toronto (40-40)
10. Chicago (38-42)
The order of the East playoff race is closer to being fully set.
The Milwaukee Bucks, Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers were locked into the top three seeds, respectively, after the Bucks and Celtics won on Wednesday night. The Cleveland Cavaliers (No. 4) and New York Knicks (No. 5) already secured their seeds.
The Brooklyn Nets extended their advantage over the Miami Heat to 1.5 games in the hunt for the No. 6 seed. The Nets need one more win against the Orlando Magic on Friday or Philadelphia on Sunday to secure that position.
Miami’s 1.5-game edge over the Atlanta Hawks should be enough for it to host one of the two opening play-in games.
Atlanta could benefit from potential rest within the Boston and Philadelphia lineups in its quest to be confirmed as the No. 8 seed. The Hawks just need to finish with the same record as the Toronto Raptors because of their head-to-head tiebreaker.
The Chicago Bulls are stuck in the No. 10 seed following Wednesday’s loss to the Bucks. They will likely visit Toronto in the winner-takes-all No. 9-versus-No. 10 play-in contest. The winner of that game would face the loser of the No. 7-versus-No. 8 contest to get into the first round of the postseason.
Prediction: 7. Miami, 8. Atlanta, 9. Toronto, 10. Chicago
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1. Denver (52-27)
2. Memphis (50-30)
3. Sacramento (48-32)
4. Phoenix (44-35)
5. Los Angeles Clippers (42-38)
6. Golden State (42-38)
7. Los Angeles Lakers (41-39)
8. New Orleans (41-39)
9. Minnesota (40-40)
10. Oklahoma City (38-42)
11. Dallas (38-42)
12. Utah (36-43)
The Clippers put themselves in a fantastic position to avoid the play-in games.
Kawhi Leonard and Co. won the head-to-head series with the Lakers, and they are ahead of the Warriors because of a better divisional record. The Clippers and Warriors split the regular-season series.
Leonard put in a 25-point performance on Wednesday night and received plenty of help off the bench from Norman Powell, Bones Hyland and Terance Mann, who combined for 51 points.
The Clippers can officially land a top-six seed with a win over the Portland Trailblazers on Saturday at home.
Golden State also needs to beat Portland on Sunday, as well as defeat the Sacramento Kings on the road on Friday to keep itself in front of the Lakers.
The Lakers have a tough battle ahead to land the No. 7 seed and hosting privileges in the opening round of the play-in tournament.
LeBron James and Co. take on Kevin Durant and the Phoenix Suns on Friday before the Utah Jazz come to California on Sunday.
Phoenix is locked into the No. 4 seed, but it could use its last three games to get Durant back into a rhythm ahead of a tough first-round series against either the Clippers or Warriors.
The Lakers might catch a break on Friday since that would be the second game in a back-to-back for the Suns, who play in Denver on Thursday night.
New Orleans can keep the pressure on the Lakers with a home win over the Knicks on Friday. New York sat Jalen Brunson and RJ Barrett on Wednesday, and it could do the same on Friday in an attempt to be fresh for the postseason.
The Pelicans’ Sunday trip to Minnesota will decide the order of the two teams, as long as the Wolves beat the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday and the Pelicans beat the Knicks. Both teams won one game in the season series, so the head-to-head tiebreaker will be on the line in that contest.
Dallas kept its play-in hopes alive with a win over the Kings, but it still needs help from either the Jazz or Memphis Grizzlies to jump over the Thunder. OKC comes into its Thursday road game in Utah on a three-game losing streak. One more loss could doom the Thunder’s play-in hopes.
The Mavs finish with the Bulls and Spurs at home. They must finish with a better record than the Thunder.
Utah is still technically alive in the play-in hunt, but the 1.5-game gap to OKC and Dallas is too much to make up in a few days.
Prediction: 7. Los Angeles Lakers, 8. Minnesota, 9. New Orleans, 10. Dallas
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