Saturday, June 12

NBA standings: Seeding scenarios, breakdown for final spots in 2021 playoffs



Brace yourselves, basketball fans. The 2021 NBA playoffs are almost here.

There is an added level of intrigue this year with the league implementing a new version of the play-in tournament, which was first seen inside the Florida “bubble” amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of the traditional eight-team fields in each conference, a total of 20 teams will participate in the postseason.

MORE: Latest standings | Daily NBA schedule

With multiple contenders battling for playoff positioning, the final stretch of the regular season should provide plenty of entertainment. 

Here’s a snapshot of the current NBA playoff picture, including the full standings for each conference.

NBA standings 2021: Eastern Conference

Seed Team Record Games back
1. 76ers* 47-23
2. Nets* 46-24 1
3. Bucks* 45-25 2
4. Hawks* 40-31 7.5
5. Heat* 39-31 8
6. Knicks* 39-31 8
7. Celtics** 35-35 12
8. Hornets** 33-37 14
9. Pacers** 33-37 14
10. Wizards 32-38 15
Bulls 30-40 17
Raptors 27-43 20
Cavaliers 22-48 25
Magic 21-49 26
Pistons 20-50 27

*clinched playoff berth
**clinched play-in berth
Eliminated from playoff contention: Cavaliers, Magic, Pistons, Raptors

NBA standings 2021: Western Conference

Seed Team Record Games back
1. Jazz* 50-20
2. Suns* 49-21 1
3. Clippers* 47-23 3
4. Nuggets* 46-24 4
5. Mavericks 41-29 9
6. Trail Blazers 41-30 9.5
7. Lakers 40-30 10
8. Warriors** 37-33 13
9. Grizzlies** 37-33 13
10. Spurs** 33-37 17
Pelicans 31-39 19
Kings 31-39 19
Timberwolves 22-48 28
Thunder 21-49 29
Rockets 16-54 34

*clinched playoff berth
**clinched play-in berth

Eliminated from playoff contention: Kings, Pelicans, Rockets, Thunder, Timberwolves

How does the NBA play-in tournament work?

  • The play-in tournament will be held after the conclusion of the 2020-21 regular season and before the start of the first round of the 2021 NBA playoffs. The teams that finish Nos. 1-6 in the standings of each conference will be guaranteed playoff spots, and teams Nos. 7-10 will enter the play-in tournament.
  • The No. 7 team will face the No. 8 team, and the winner will earn the No. 7 seed in the playoffs. The loser will still have one more opportunity to reach the playoffs.
  • The No. 9 team will face the No. 10 team, and the winner will advance to play against the loser of the No. 7 vs. No. 8 game. The loser of the No. 9 vs. No. 10 game will be eliminated from playoff contention.
  • The loser from the No. 7 vs. No. 8 game and the winner from the No. 9 vs. No. 10 game will then play against each other. The winner of that game will be the No. 8 seed in the playoffs, and the loser will be eliminated from playoff contention.

NBA playoff picture: Seeding breakdowns

(Remaining strength of schedule via Tankathon and playoff probability via FiveThirtyEight)

Eastern Conference

1. 76ers

Remaining games: 2

Remaining strength of schedule: .300

Playoff probability: In

2. Nets

Remaining games: 2

Remaining strength of schedule: .371

Playoff probability: In

3. Bucks

Remaining games: 2

Remaining strength of schedule: .493

Playoff probability: In

4. Hawks

Remaining games: 1

Remaining strength of schedule: .229

Playoff probability: In

5. Heat

Remaining games: 2

Remaining strength of schedule: .464

Playoff probability: In

6. Knicks

Remaining games: 2

Remaining strength of schedule: .486

Playoff probability: In

7. Celtics

Remaining games: 2

Remaining strength of schedule: .436

Playoff probability: 93 percent

8. Hornets

Remaining games: 2

Remaining strength of schedule: .507

Playoff probability: 39 percent

9. Pacers

Remaining games: 2

Remaining strength of schedule: .479

Playoff probability: 30 percent

10. Wizards

Remaining games: 2

Remaining strength of schedule: .393

Playoff probability: 38 percent

Western Conference

1. Jazz

Remaining games: 2

Remaining strength of schedule: .371

Playoff probability: In

2. Suns

Remaining games: 2

Remaining strength of schedule: .471

Playoff probability: In

3. Clippers

Remaining games: 2

Remaining strength of schedule: .264

Playoff probability: In

4. Nuggets

Remaining games: 2

Remaining strength of schedule: .433

Playoff probability: In

5. Mavericks

Remaining games: 2

Remaining strength of schedule: .350

Playoff probability: 99 percent

6. Trail Blazers

Remaining games: 1

Remaining strength of schedule: .657

Playoff probability: 99 percent

7. Lakers

Remaining games: 2

Remaining strength of schedule: .457

Playoff probability: 97 percent

8. Warriors

Remaining games: 2

Remaining strength of schedule: .486

Playoff probability: 61 percent

9. Grizzlies

Remaining games: 2

Remaining strength of schedule: .486

Playoff probability: 36 percent

10. Spurs

Remaining games: 2

Remaining strength of schedule: .700

Playoff probability: 9 percent





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