NBA

NBA playoff picture, standings, magic numbers: Lakers vs. Warriors currently on tap for first play-in game

The Los Angeles Lakers, who have now lost eight of their last 10 games, fell to the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night. With the loss, the Lakers drop to the No. 7 seed and into the play-in tournament. If the tournament were to start today, the Lakers would face the No. 8 Warriors in the first play-in game.  

Portland, meanwhile, moves up to No. 6. The Blazers are one back of No. 5 Dallas in the loss column with the tiebreaker in hand. 

A quick reminder on the NBA‘s new play-in format: The top six seeds in each conference are in, with the final two seeds up for grabs via the new play-in tournament. In each conference, No. 7 will play No. 8 with the winner getting the No. 7 seed. The loser will then play the winner of 9 vs. 10 for the No. 8 seed.

Below is what the playoff picture looks like entering play on Friday, May 7. Teams are listed in order of current seed along with the SportsLine projected finishing seed and different magic number scenarios. A “playoff spot” means a top-six seed. This post will continue to update for the remainder of the season as we keep track of these races down to the wire. 

NOTE: Our SportsLine model, developed by predictive data engineer Stephen Oh, simulates the entire season 10,000 times to produce the most unbiased and precise projections possible.

WESTERN CONFERENCE

(Current playoff teams)

1. Utah Jazz

The Jazz beat Denver on Friday. They hold a one-game lead over No. 2 Phoenix for the No. 1 overall seed, though the Suns own the tiebreaker. Utah has clinched a top-three seed. 

  • Magic number to clinch No. 1 seed: 5
  • Magic number to clinch top-two seed: 1
  • Strength of remaining schedule: 26th
  • Projected seed: No. 1

2. Phoenix Suns

Phoenix beat the Knicks on Friday and trail the Jazz by one in the loss column for the No. 1 overall seed. The Suns own the tiebreaker. Phoenix has clinched a top-four seed. 

  • Magic number to clinch top-two seed: 3
  • Strength of remaining schedule: 14th
  • Projected seed: No. 2

3. Los Angeles Clippers

The Clippers were idle on Friday after beating the Lakers on Thursday. By virtue of Denver’s loss to Utah, the Clippers, who have clinched a top-four seed, now lead the No. 4 Nuggets by one game (Denver owns the tiebreaker) with five games to play.

  • Magic number to clinch No. 3 seed: 5
  • Strength of remaining schedule: 27th
  • Projected seed: No. 3

4. Denver Nuggets

The Nuggets lost to Utah on Friday to fall one game back of the No. 3 Clippers (Denver owns the tiebreaker). The Nuggets have clinched a playoff spot and can clinch a top-four seed with one more win or one Dallas loss. 

  • Magic number to clinch top-four seed: 1
  • Strength of remaining schedule: 22nd
  • Projected seed: No. 4

5. Dallas Mavericks

The Mavericks, who have won eight of their last 10 games, lead the No. 6 Blazers by one game (Portland owns the tiebreaker). Dallas has a two-game lead over the No. 7 Lakers with the tiebreaker in hand, making that lead effectively three games unless it comes down to a three-way tie between Dallas, Portland and the Lakers, in which case different tiebreak rules apply. 

  • Magic number to clinch playoff spot: 3
  • Strength of remaining schedule: 28th
  • Projected seed: No. 5

6. Portland Trail Blazers

The Blazers defeated the Lakers on Friday to jump out of the play-in tournament into the No. 6 seed — one game back of No. 5 Dallas and one game up on the No. 7 Lakers with the tiebreaker over both secured. Portland has clinched a spot in the play-in tournament. 

  • Magic number to clinch playoff spot: 4
  • Strength of remaining schedule: 4th
  • Projected seed: No. 6

(Current play-in teams)

7. Los Angeles Lakers

The Lakers, who have no lost eight of their last 10 games, fell to the Blazers on Friday night. Consequently, the Lakers dropped to the No. 7 seed and into the play-in tournament. The Lakers are one game back of the No. 6 Blazers, who own the tiebreaker, and two games back of the No. 5 Mavericks, who also own the tiebreaker over L.A. The Lakers have clinced at least a play-in berth but do not control their own destiny for a top-six seed. 

  • Strength of remaining schedule: 17th
  • Projected seed: No. 7

8. Golden State Warriors

The Warriors, who were idle on Friday, are tied in the loss column with the No. 9 Grizzlies (Golden State has played one more game and thus leads by win percentage at the moment). The Golden State-Memphis season series is tied 1-1 one matchup remaining on the final day of the season. The Warriors have a one-loss lead over No. 10 San Antonio (31-33) with the tiebreaker in hand, making that lead effectively two. The Warriors lead the No. 11 Pelicans by three in the loss column with the season series tied 1-1 and one matchup remaining. 

  • Magic number to clinch play-in series: 2
  • Strength of remaining schedule: 8th
  • Projected seed: No. 8

9. Memphis Grizzlies

The Grizzlies took a dreadful loss to the Pistons on Thursday, falling to the No. 9 seed. Memphis is tied in the loss column with the No. 8 Warriors (who have a higher win percentage at the moment) with the season series tied 1-1 and one matchup left on the last day of the season. Memphis has a one-loss lead over San Antonio, but with the tiebreaker already secured, that lead is effectively two. 

  • Magic number to clinch play-in spot: 3
  • Strength of remaining schedule: 21st
  • Projected seed: No. 9

10. San Antonio Spurs

The Spurs snapped a five-game losing streak on Friday with a win over the Kings, whose play-in hopes are now pretty much over. San Antonio trails No. 9 Memphis by one in the loss column, but the Grizzlies own the tiebreaker. San Antonio leads No. 11 New Orleans by three in the loss column with the tiebreaker in hand and six games to play. 

  • Magic number to clinch play-in series: 2
  • Strength of remaining schedule: 2nd
  • Projected seed: No. 10

(Clinging to play-in life)

  • 11. New Orleans Pelicans — Three losses back of No. 10 San Antonio (Spurs have the tiebreaker).
  • 12. Sacramento Kings — Four losses back of No. 10 San Antonio (Spurs have the tiebreaker). 

EASTERN CONFERENCE

(Current playoff teams)

1. Philadelphia 76ers

The Sixers have a three-loss lead over the No. 2 Bucks (Milwaukee owns tiebreaker) and No. 3 Nets (Philly owns tiebreaker) with five games to play. 

  • Magic number to clinch No. 1 seed: 3
  • Strength of remaining schedule: 29th
  • Projected seed: No. 1

2. Milwaukee Bucks

The Bucks took over the No. 2 seed on Friday night with a win over the Rockets. Milwaukee shares a 43-24 record with No. 3 Brooklyn but owns the tiebreaker. The Bucks have clinched a top-three seed. 

  • Magic number to clinch top-two seed: 5
  • Strength of remaining schedule: 25th
  • Projected seed: No. 2

3. Brooklyn Nets

The Nets have lost four straight. They are tied with the No. 2 Bucks, who own the tiebreaker, with five games to play. The Nets hav clinched a top-three seed. 

  • Strength of remaining schedule: 23rd
  • Projected seed: No. 3

4. New York Knicks

The Knicks are officially ruled out for a top-three seed after losing to Phoenix on Friday. New York leads the No. 5 Hawks by one in the loss column, but with the tiebreaker secured, that lead is effectively two. The Knicks also have a two-loss lead over No. 6 Boston (season series tied 1-1 with one matchup remaining on the final day of the season) and No. 7 Miami (Heat own tiebreaker). The Knicks have clinched a spot in at least the play-in tournament. 

  • Magic number to clinch playoff spot: 3
  • Magic number to clinch top-four seed: 5
  • Strength of remaining schedule: 7th
  • Projected seed: No. 5

5. Atlanta Hawks

The Hawks are one game back of the No. 4 Knicks, who own the tiebreaker. Our SportsLine projections have Atlanta jumping New York by season’s end, but nobody in Atlanta is resting easy. The Hawks are tied in the loss column with No. 7 Miami and lead No. 7 Boston by just one game. The good news is they own the tiebreaker over both. 

  • Magic number to clinch playoff spot: 2
  • Strength of remaining schedule: 30th
  • Projected seed: No. 4

6. Miami Heat

The Heat beat Minnesota on Friday. Combined with Boston’s loss to Chicago, the Heat jump out of the play-in tournament with a one-loss lead over the No. 7 Celtics. Miami and Boston still have two head-to-head matchups remaining. Miami is tied in the loss column with No. 5 Atlanta, but the Hawks own the tiebreaker. Miami has clinched a spot in the play-in tournament.

  • Magic number to clinch playoff spot: 3
  • Strength of remaining schedule: 10th
  • Projected seed: No. 6

(Current play-in teams)

7. Boston Celtics

Boston took a terrible loss to the Bulls on Friday to fall back into the play-in tournament. The Celtics trail the No. 6 Heat by one in the loss column with two matchups remaining. The Celtics have clinched a spot in the play-in tournament and still control their own destiny for a top-six seed. 

  • Magic number to clinch playoff spot: 4
  • Strength of remaining schedule: 24th
  • Projected seed: No. 7

8. Charlotte Hornets

Charlotte has a one-loss lead over No. 9 Indiana with the tiebreaker in hand, making that an effective two-game gap. The Hornets lead No. 10 Washington by two in the loss column and own the tiebreaker. 

  • Magic number to clinch play-in spot: 1
  • Strength of remaining schedule: 5th
  • Projected seed: No. 8

9. Indiana Pacers

The Pacers trail the No. 8 Hornets by one in the loss column, but Charlotte owns the tiebreaker, so that deficit is effectively two. Indiana has a one-loss lead over No. 10 Washington, which has secured the tiebreaker, with one matchup remaining. 

  • Magic number to clinch play-in spot: 3
  • Strength of remaining schedule: 16th
  • Projected seed: No. 9

10. Washington Wizards

The Wizards trail the No. 9 Pacers by one game with the tiebreaker secured and one head-to-head matchup remaining on Saturday. The Wizards have a three-loss lead over the No. 12 Bulls and a four-loss lead over the No. 12 Raptors. 

  • Magic number to clinch play-in spot: 3
  • Strength of remaining schedule: 19th
  • Projected seed: No. 10

(Outside looking in)

  • 11. Chicago Bulls — Three losses back of No. 10 Washington
  • 12. Toronto Raptors — Four losses back of No. 10 Washington



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