NBA: Playoff Preview Final Countdown

As the end of the regular season nears in the NBA, there are a lot of different things to consider moving forward. Here are a few.

Tiebreakers:
(From CBS Sports Online)

Eastern Conference: The spots are filled, now we’ll have to see who ends up at which seed.

1. Toronto Raptors (56-22) 

  • Split series: Celtics (2-2)
  • Note: 12-4 division record, 37-11 conference record

 

2. Boston Celtics (53-25)

  • Split series: Raptors (2-2)
  • Note: 11-4 division record, 31-17 conference record

3. Cleveland Cavaliers (49-30)

  • Win tiebreakers over: 76ers (2-1)
  • Lose tiebreakers to:  Pacers (3-1)
  • Note: They visit Philadelphia on Friday

4. Philadelphia 76ers (48-30)

  • Lose tiebreakers to: Pacers (2-1), Cavaliers (2-1)
  • Note: They host Cavaliers on Friday

5. Indiana Pacers (47-32)

  •   Win tiebreakers over: Cavaliers (3-1), 76ers (2-1)

 

6. Miami Heat (43-36)

  • Win tiebreakers over: Bucks (3-0)
  • Split series: Wizards (2-2)
  • Note: 11-5 division record

7. Washington Wizards (42-37)

  • Split series: Heat (2-2), Bucks (2-2)
  • Note: 8-6 division record

 

8. Milwaukee Bucks (42-37)

  • Lose tiebreakers to: Heat (3-0)
  • Split series: Wizards (2-2)
  • Note: 6-10 division record

Western Conference:  There are still two spots that need filled. As of now, two more teams could make the cut and bump out two teams currently in the top-8.

1. Houston Rockets (64-15)

  • Locked, second seed

 

3. Portland Trail Blazers (48-31)

  • Lose tiebreakers to: Jazz (2-1)
  • Split series: Spurs (1-1)
  • Note: Their remaining four games are against Houston, San Antonio, Denver and Utah

    4. Utah Jazz (46-33)

  • Win tiebreakers over: Spurs (3-1), Pelicans (3-1), Clippers (3-1), Jazz (2-1)
  • Lose tiebreakers to:Thunder (3-1)
  • Split series: Timberwolves (2-2), Nuggets (2-2)
  • Note: They visit Portland next Wednesday; 7-8 division record

5. San Antonio Spurs (45-34)

  • Win tiebreakers over: Timberwolves (2-1), Clippers (2-1)
  • Lose tiebreakers to: Jazz (3-1), Pelicans (2-1)
  • Split series: Blazers (1-1), Thunder (2-2), Nuggets (2-2)
  • Note: They host Portland on Saturday and visit New Orleans next Wednesday; 9-6 division record

6. Oklahoma City Thunder (45-34)

  • Win tiebreakers over: Jazz (3-1), Clippers (3-0)
  • Lose tiebreakers to: Timberwolves (3-1), Pelicans (2-1), Nuggets (3-1)
  • Split series: Spurs (2-2)
  • Note: 5-11 division record

7. New Orleans Pelicans (44-34)

  • Win tiebreakers over: Spurs (2-1), Thunder (2-1), Clippers (2-1)
  • Lose tiebreakers to: Jazz (3-1), Timberwolves (4-0), Nuggets (2-1)
  • Note: They visit the Clippers next Monday and host San Antonio next Wednesday; 7-7 division record

8. Minnesota Timberwolves (44-35)

  • Win tiebreakers over: Thunder (3-1), Pelicans (4-0), Nuggets (2-1), Clippers (4-0)
  • Lose tiebreakers to: Spurs (2-1)
  • Split series: Jazz (2-2)
  • Note: They host Denver next Wednesday; 9-6 division record

9. Denver Nuggets (44-35)

  • Win tiebreakers over: Thunder (3-1), Pelicans (2-1)
  • Lose tiebreakers to: Timberwolves (2-0), Clippers (2-0)
  • Split series: Jazz (2-2), Spurs (2-2)
  • Note: Their three remaining games are against the Clippers, Portland and Minnesota; 8-6 division record

10. Los Angeles Clippers (42-37)

  • Win tiebreakers over: Nuggets (2-0)
  • Lose tiebreakers to: Jazz (3-1), Spurs (2-1), Thunder (3-0), Timberwolves (4-0), Pelicans (2-1)
  • Note: They host Denver on Saturday and host New Orleans next Monday; 12-3 division record

NOTE: I took all of these tiebreaker scenarios directly from CBS Sports. If you’d like to see it there, CLICK HERE.


Home-Court Advantage:

In each series, one team gets home-court advantage as well. Meaning the games are played 2-2-1-1-1…which means 2 at home, 2 away, then alternating through the seven game series if needed.

There are a number of different stats that go into deciding home-court, but generally the team with the better overall record, better head-to-head record, and/or point differential earns home-court for the series. That team is usually the higher seed, but not automatically.

Eastern Conference:

With only the top-seed in each conference earning home-court advantage for the duration of the playoffs, the Raptors or Celtics are looking to secure that honor. As of now, the Raptors are in the drivers seat in the East, sitting three games ahead of the Celtics. But there is still a chance that the seeding could switch before the playoffs start and Boston could lock down the top-seed and home-court that comes with it.

Western Conference:

Again, the Western Conference playoff seeding is still up in the air, but the top-2 seeds are locked in. The Houston Rockets have secured the top-seed, and home-court advantage throughout the Western Conference playoffs, and the Golden State Warriors have landed the 2-seed.


Injuries:
(Updated Injury Report)

Eastern Conference:

Raptors: With no serious injuries, the Raptors are in good shape heading into the playoffs.

Celtics: All-star point guard Kyrie Irving had season-ending knee surgery, Gordon Hayward still in rehab from his gruesome ankle injury on opening day, and David Theis, a fill-in PF, out injured, the Celtics will need to keep up with their tough Eastern Conference competition in the playoffs.

Cavaliers: As long as LeBron can stay healthy and well-rested, the Cavaliers will be a strong force in the playoffs.

76ers: Joel Embiid is currently out with an eye injury, but is expected to be good to go by the time the first-round of the playoffs rolls around.

Pacers: Assuming all the Pacers can stay rested and uninjured, they should be in good shape for a run in the playoffs.

Heat: Dion Waiters is out for the season, but the Heat have been okay without him. Look for them to make a push during the last week of the regular season to improve their seed.

Wizards: The Wizards are healthy and finishing the season strong. With John Wall resting, they should be ready to go in the playoffs.

Bucks: With non-serious injuries to Thon Maker, Matthew Dellavedova and Malcolm Brogdon, they are all game-day decisions. Landing a low-seed in the playoffs would be serious progress for the franchise.

Western Conference:

Rockets: With no significant injuries, the Rockets will earn home-court advantage throughout the Western Conference playoffs. I expect James Harden and Chris Paul to play some, but will earn rest to be fresh for the first-round.

Warriors: Stephen Curry is out until the playoffs with a knee injury, but is expected to be ready when the first-round starts. Andre Iguodala is a game-time decision with a non-serious knee injury.

Trailblazers: With a tweaked ankle, Damian Lillard is still a game-time decision, and the Trailblazers will want to keep the 3-seed locked down, so I expect to see Dame play more before the regular season ends. Other injuries include back-ups Ed Davis (PF) and Maurice Harkless (SF).

Jazz: Ricky Rubio (PG), Jae Crowder (PF) and Raul Neto (PG) are all game-time decisions, but should be playing most of the remaining games. Currently the 4-seed, the Jazz can still finish as high as 3rd, but will likely remain at 4.

Spurs: Kawhi Leonard has been out most of the season, but the Spurs and Coach Pop have kept them right in the middle of the playoff conversation. If Leonard is able to play in the playoffs, the Spurs could come out of no where and run the table through the first and second rounds in the West.

Thunder: This season was all about a new “Big-3” era for the Thunder. With Paul George, Carmelo Anthony and Russell Westbrook all healthy going into the playoffs, they could be the team to beat. There record and seeding doesn’t reflect the talent on the court.

Pelicans: The injury bug has hurt the Pelicans all season. After the loss of DeMarcus Cousins, many thought their playoff hopes were gone. But now, even with injuries to Frank Jackson and Alexis Ajinca, the Pelicans are clinging to the 7-seed, but can finish as high as 4th if they win out and other teams lose.

Timberwolves: Jimmy Butler has been limited since the All-Star break, but looks to get back on the court for a deep run in the playoffs. Derrick Rose and Jeff Teague are also listed on the official injury report as game-time decisions, but I expect the Timberwolves to play everyone available to end the season strong and earn a higher seed in the West.

Nuggets: Currently the 9-seed, the Nuggets are on the verge of missing the playoffs. Luckily, the injury bug hasn’t hurt them too much. With non-serious injuries to starting SG Gary Harris, expected to be playing by the playoffs, and PF Tyler Lydon out through May, the Nuggets have stayed right with the pack in search of the last seed in the West.

Clippers: Injuries have challenged the Clippers all season. Hunting for the 8-seed in the West, SG Avery Bradley is likely to miss the first-round of the playoffs (if they make the cut). Additionally, SF Danilo Gallinari and PG Milos Teodosic are expected to be active by the time the first-round comes around.

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