As you might have guessed from the title, there are only three days left in the NBA regular season. Despite the short time remaining, there’s still a whole lot at stake. Just two of the twenty playoff seeds are set, and there is still a potential outsider in the Bulls that might crash the party late. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the current magic numbers –
Sixers = Clinched top 3 – 1 for Nets & Bucks
Nets = Clinched top 3 – 2 for Bucks, 4 for Sixers
Bucks = Clinched top 3 – 3 for Nets, 4 for Sixers
Hawks = Clinched top 6 – 1 for Heat, 2 for Knicks
Heat = Clinched top 6 – 2 for Knicks, 3 for Hawks
Knicks = Clinched top 6 – 2 for Hawks, 3 for Heat
- Tiebreaker reminders: Knicks > Hawks, Hawks > Heat, Heat > Knicks; if 3-way tie – Heat > Knicks > Hawks. Magic numbers only take 2-way tiebreakers into account – for example, Hawks would guarantee they finish ahead of Heat in 2-way tie with win in their last game, but they would drop to third in this group if everyone wins out.
Celtics = Clinched 7 seed
Hornets = Clinched top 10 – 1 for Wizards, 2 for Pacers
Pacers = Clinched top 10 – 2 for Wizards, 3 for Hornets
Wizards = Clinched top 11 – 1 for Bulls, 3 for Pacers, 4 for Hornets
Bulls = 4 for Wizards
Raptors = Eliminated
Cavs = Eliminated
Magic = Eliminated
Pistons = Eliminated
Jazz = Clinched top 2 – 2 for Suns
Suns = Clinched top 3 – 1 for Clippers, 3 for Jazz
Clippers = Clinched top 4 – 2 for Nuggets, 4 for Suns
Nuggets = Clinched top 4 – 3 for Clippers
Blazers = Clinched top 7 – 1 for Lakers, 2 for Mavs
Mavs = Clinched top 7 – 1 for Lakers, 2 for Blazers
Lakers = Clinched top 7 – 3 for Blazers, 4 for Mavs
- Tiebreaker note here: Both Dallas and Portland > LA. In case of three-way tie, would be Portland > Dallas > LA
Warriors = Clinched top 9 – 3 for Grizzlies
Grizzlies = Clinched top 9 – 3 for Warriors
Spurs = Clinched 10 seed
Kings = Eliminated
Pelicans = Eliminated
Thunder = Eliminated
Timberwolves = Eliminated
Rockets = Eliminated
Now, before we get to today’s games, the other thing to worry about is the bottom of the league. For reference, these are the lottery odds based on position – with one being the worst team in the league –
The AVG column represents average draft pick position based on lottery odds. The other interesting thing to consider here is that ties are not fully decided by tiebreakers. Instead, the odds for the top four picks are averaged out – so if #3 and #4 tie you’d see both have 13.25, 12.8, 12.3, and 11.75 – while the remaining odds (5-14) stay the same with the better odds going to the team with the worst position (i.e, #4 instead of #5) by tiebreaker. That makes sense I think. This is all, including the graphic, via Tankathon. Now that we’ve done that, we can look at the current reverse standings –
- Pistons (4 games back)
- Thunder (5)
- Magic (5)
- Timberwolves (6)
- Cavs (6)
- Raptors (11)
- Bulls (14)
- Pelicans (15)
- Kings (15)
- Wizards (16)
- Spurs (17)
- Pacers/Hornets (17)
- Grizzlies/Warriors (21)
There will obviously be plenty of variation to that last four over the next week or so, but this is the general picture. There’s still plenty to play for in these last few games for the Thunder, Magic, Timberwolves, and Cavs. The Pelicans, Kings, and Bulls are in a similar spot. Playoff positioning isn’t the only battle to watch this weekend.
- Cavs @ Wizards
The stakes are simple for Washington – win and you’re in. The Bulls would officially be eliminated with a Wizards victory here, and it would keep some hope of moving up to the 8 or 9 seed alive. With a loss, the 10 seed would likely be the ceiling, and the door behind them would remain slightly open. You want to finish this now. For Cleveland, losses lead to better draft position. They wouldn’t be too mad if Washington gets their way here.
- Nuggets @ Pistons
With a win, the Nuggets can keep some pressure on the Clippers for the 3 seed. The Pistons, meanwhile, can move one step closer to clinching the second-worst record in the league. It’s a win-win scenario if Denver takes this one.
- Jazz @ Thunder
The same could be said of a Jazz win here. The Thunder are tied for the third-worst record in the league, and they don’t want to give that position up. The Jazz are on the opposite side of things, and they can come to the brink of clinching the 1 seed with a win here. It would be a disaster if they fall short. With a Utah loss, Phoenix would reclaim control of their own destiny in regards to the top spot.
- Magic @ Sixers
The theme of terrible teams taking on good ones continues here. The Magic are in the exact same spot as the Thunder. The Sixers need just one more win to clinch the East’s 1 seed. It’s hard to see this finishing as anything other than a Philly win.
- Raptors @ Mavs
The Raptors are eliminated, locked into the 7 spot in the lottery, and coming off a 12-point loss to the Bulls last night. They might not be all that excited to play this one. That’s a good thing for Dallas, who can clinch their top six spot and move within a game of topping the Blazers with a win in this one. With a loss, the door remains open for the Lakers, and there’s suddenly a lot of pressure on the Mavs to win on Sunday.
- Clippers @ Rockets
The Rockets are very bad, but the downside of that for the Clippers is that Houston has nothing to lose by going all-out in this one. They’re already at the bottom. The good thing is that their all-out effort still isn’t very good. With a win, LA moves to the brink of clinching the 3 seed, and they would also keep some pressure on the Suns for the 2 seed. A loss eliminates them from top-two contention, and it also puts the ball back in Denver’s court for the 3 seed (assuming they don’t lose too).
- Kings @ Grizzlies
It’s the rematch of last night, where Sacramento gave up a 2-14 run to end the game and their playoff hopes. They don’t have much to play for here, and it’s not hard to imagine that they come out lacking in spirit tonight. For Memphis, there’s also absolutely nothing on the line in this one. No matter how this one goes, they’ll be playing the Warriors on Sunday with the 8 seed going to the winner.
- Pelicans @ Warriors
This is basically the exact same situation, except the Pelicans were eliminated a tiny bit earlier than the Kings. No matter how this game goes, the Warriors will remain in the same spot they are as I write this in regards to the 8 seed (needing a win on Sunday). There is some lottery-based value in losing for the Kings and Pelicans, but that’s about it as far as stakes go in these two.
We went 4-2 yesterday to move to 9-3 on the week. Let’s keep her rolling.
Parlay – Wizards, Clippers, Nuggets MLs – $17 to win $14