Who’s in, who’s out, projected matchups & conference predictions for the 2021 NBA Playoffs
As of now, the top seven teams in the playoff field look to be set. There’s a race for the eighth, ninth & 10th spots between the Charlotte Hornets, Indiana Pacers, Washington Wizards, Toronto Raptors, and Chicago Bulls. The Hornets hold a half-game lead over the Pacers for the #8 spot. Meanwhile, the Wizards trail the Pacers by just 1½ games. The Wizards currently hold the 10th spot, but the Bulls and Raptors are within three games of Washington.
The top spot is still up for grabs, as the Philadelphia 76ers hold a half-game lead over the Brooklyn Nets and a three-game lead over the Milwaukee Bucks. The only playoff seed that seems to be set in stone is, believe it or not, the New York Knicks. It would take lots of crazy things to happen for the Knicks to move out of the #4 seed. After years of futility, the Knicks will have the home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
The Atlanta Hawks and the Miami Heat are currently tied for the 5th seed, with the Boston Celtics sitting in the 7th spot, just one game behind the Hawks and Heat in the standings. This will be an interesting race to watch.
With the new playoff format, no one wants to be the #7 seed, as they would have to win a play-in series in order to advance to the round of eight.
The Wild, Wild West is a great way to describe this year’s Western Conference. There are currently 11 teams vying for the 10 coveted spots in this year’s playoffs. The most exciting aspect of the playoff race is the race for the top seed, as the Phoenix Suns and Utah Jazz are tied atop the Western Conference.
The Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Clippers aren’t out of the race for the top seed just yet. The Nuggets currently sit in the third position, just three games back of Denver and Los Angeles. Not far behind them are the Clippers, who are just 3½ games back of the top spot.
The one spot that nobody wants to be in is the seventh slot. Getting the #7 seed earns you a spot in the play-in round. Currently, there’s a three-way tie for the 5th spot between the Dallas Mavericks, Portland Trail Blazers, and the Los Angeles Lakers. Many are shocked to see the Lakers that far down in the standings, but the Lakers have hit hard times due to injuries. We’ll see how things go now that LeBron James is back. However, Dennis Schroder will now miss the next few games due to health and safety protocols.
The Memphis Grizzlies, Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs, and New Orleans Pelicans are all within 3½ games of each other. Memphis currently holds the eighth seed. It will be a hectic last two weeks of the season for these four teams, as one of them will end up being in the NBA Draft Lottery.
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