Welcome to Monday. It’s a new week. Let’s start off today with some magic numbers, and then I’ll get into a quick preview and some plays.
Say the Magic are ahead of the Hawks in the standings. A magic number would be the number of combined Orlando wins and Atlanta losses that they need to clinch a spot ahead of the Hawks. In most cases, it’s obviously not quite that simple since there are multiple teams that could theoretically pass you, so magic numbers here will mostly be the biggest magic number you have left – if there are three teams behind you, which one will be the hardest (mathematically), to keep there? This can also be applied in the opposite direction – how many of your wins + their losses do you need to finish ahead of the team that’s currently ahead of you?
Head-to-head tiebreakers are included in the numbers here.
Example of the typical set-up to avoid constant repeat: 6 for top 6 (no play-in), 3 for top 10 = 6, 3
Now about 4-5 games left for each team, so we’re looking at about 9 total games left between you and the team you’re ahead of or chasing.
Sixers = Clinched top 3 – 1 for Nets, 2 for Bucks
Nets = Clinched top 3 – 6 Bucks, 9 for Sixers
Bucks = Clinched top 3 – 5 for Nets, 8 for Sixers
Knicks = Clinched top 7 – 2 for Celtics, 3 for Hawks, 4 for Heat
Hawks = Clinched top 8 – 1 for Hornets, 2 for Celtics, 4 for Heat, 6 for Knicks
Heat = Clinched top 8 – 1 for Hornets, 3 for Celtics (could clinch tomorrow with win over Boston since that would give Miami the tiebreaker but 3 if they lose that game), 5 for Hawks & Knicks
Celtics = Clinched top 10 – 1 for Wizards & Pacers, 2 for Hornets, 7 for Hawks, 7 for Heat (would go down to 4 with win tomorrow given tiebreak situation), 8 for Knicks
Hornets = Clinched top 11 – 1 for Bulls, 3 for Pacers & Wizards, 7 for Celtics, 8 for Heat & Hawks
Wizards = Clinched top 11 – 2 for Bulls, 4 for Pacers, 6 for Hornets, 8 for Celtics
Pacers = Clinched top 12 – 1 for Raptors, 3 for Bulls, 6 for Wizards, 7 for Hornets, 9 for Celtics
Bulls = 2 for Raptors, 7 for Wizards & Pacers, 8 for Hornets
Raptors = 7 for Bulls, 9 for Pacers
Cavs = Eliminated
Magic = Eliminated
Pistons = Eliminated
Jazz = Clinched top 2 – 3 for Suns
Suns = Clinched top 4 – 1 for Nuggets, 2 for Clippers, 6 for Jazz
Clippers = Clinched top 4 – 4 for Nuggets, 7 for Suns
Nuggets = Clinched top 5 – 1 for Mavs, 5 for Clippers, 8 for Suns
Mavs = Clinched top 7 – 2 for Lakers, 4 for Blazers, 8 for Nuggets
Blazers = Clinched top 8 – 1 for Grizzlies, 3 for Lakers, 5 for Mavs
Lakers = Clinched top 9 – 1 for Grizzlies & Warriors, 6 for Blazers, 7 for Mavs
Warriors = Clinched top 11 – 1 for Pelicans, 2 for Spurs, 5 for Grizzlies, 8 for Lakers
Grizzlies = Clinched top 12 – 1 for Kings, 2 for Pelicans, 3 for Spurs, 6 for Warriors, 9 for Lakers & Blazers
Spurs = Clinched top 12 – 2 for Kings, 3 for Pelicans, 8 for Warriors & Grizzlies
Pelicans = 3 for Kings, 7 for Spurs, 8 for Grizzlies & Warriors
Kings = 6 for Pelicans, 8 for Spurs, 9 for Grizzlies
Thunder = Eliminated
Timberwolves = Eliminated
Rockets = Eliminated
With that, let’s take a look at today’s games and how they might impact the playoff picture –
- Pacers @ Cavs
For the Cavs, this will be a chance to tie the Thunder for the third-worst record in the league and keep their chances for equal odds for the top pick in a good spot. For the Pacers, a win would knock the Raptors out and do one-third of the job when it comes to eliminating the Bulls. It would also keep their shot at a top-nine seed alive.
- Wizards @ Hawks
With a win, the Wizards can stay within a game of the Hornets, put the Bulls on the very brink, and move closer to clinching that 9 seed. A loss would put them a whole lot closer to not being able to move into the 8 seed, and it would give the Pacers the chance to jump right back into things. A Hawks win would move them within one win (or Celtics loss) of the top six, and it would keep the pressure on both the Knicks and Heat. A loss gives both of those teams a little more room to breath.
- Pelicans @ Grizzlies
It’s a must-win for New Orleans. Lose, and the playoffs are hinging on the Spurs finishing 1-4 or worse regardless of how the Pelicans finish. Win, and some semblance of hope remains. For the Grizzlies, a win here would allow them to keep pace with – and potentially even pass – the Warriors for the 8 seed. It would also clinch a play-in spot for them. They currently control their own destiny when it comes to the Warriors (both teams do with their season finale coming against each other in a game that would decide their head-to-head tiebreaker), but that would no longer be the case if they lose and the Warriors win tonight.
- Bucks @ Spurs
The Bucks need to win to keep pace with the Nets and to keep any hopes of the 1 seed alive. The Spurs can, with a win, all but settle the West’s top ten. A loss would keep the door open, and it could also lock the Spurs below the top nine seeds depending on how the Grizzlies and Warriors do.
- Jazz @ Warriors
The Jazz now have a two game gap at the top of the West, so any single game isn’t particularly crucial. It’d be better to fully shut the door as soon as possible though, and the Suns having the tiebreaker means that door is certainly still open. The Warriors could lock up a top nine seed if things go well tonight, and a win would keep the pressure on Memphis. With a loss, things might flip in the Grizzlies’ favor.
- Rockets @ Trail Blazers
The Blazers need to keep winning to secure their top six spot. The Rockets are terrible, and they would clinch the league’s worst record with a loss tonight.