With just a couple of weeks remaining in the NBA regular season, we are getting down to the wire in the playoff races. As you probably already know, things are a little different this season, as we have a change to the usual format of the top 8 in each conference getting in. Instead, it will be the top 6 who get automatic berths, while 7 through 10 in each conference take part in a play-in tournament. While it all seems a little convoluted to some, you have to say that it has made things a little more interesting in the lower half of the standings. With all of that in mind, let’s take a look at how things might play out so you can plan your bets against their NBA Playoffs odds.
2021 NBA Playoffs – Possible Matchups
Let’s start by looking at the play-in tournament, which, as it stands now, would have the Miami Heat and Charlotte Hornets playing for the #7 seed. The loser of that one would go on to face the winner of the Pacers/Wizards game, with the winner of that one getting the #8 seed.
Things can still change in the standings here, with the Heat and the Celtics in a dogfight for the #6 seed. Meanwhile, the Bulls and the Raptors are still in the conversation to crack the top 10, so we have a long way to go before this is all sorted out.
The reality, though, is that the winners of the play-in tournament have a tough opening round ahead of them. The Nets now look like a good bet to land the #1 seed and should have no problem getting past whoever lands the #8 seed. The 76ers, who led the conference most of the season, also look to be a lock to move on. We could potentially see an upset of the Bucks stay in the #3 spot, as they have not been great in the postseason. They could face the Heat or the Celtics in Round 1. The Hawks and the Wizards have both come to life in the second half of the season and it would be fun to see them square off in the opening round.
In terms of the play-in, things look a little more set in stone in the West. The big battle right now seems to be for the #6 seed, with the Mavericks and Trail Blazers sitting a game apart. Below them, we have the Grizzlies, Spurs, and Warriors. Those three teams look to be set to have a tight battle for seeding between now and the end of the season.
Below the play-in line we have the New Orleans Pelicans, but they are 3 1/s games off the pace and not really doing enough to get above the line.
The battle for #1 is a good one, with the Jazz, Suns, and Clippers all in with a real shot. The Clippers are at #3 right now, but they are just 2 games out of first and rolling. It would not be a surprise to see them slip into the #1 seed and set themselves up for a playoff run. Where things get interesting is with the LA Lakers, who are currently sitting in #5. They are close to being healthy again, but they have some work to do to move up. As it stands right now, they would have an opening round series against the Denver Nuggets, but they would also not have home court advantage through the postseason. That is a tough road ahead.