Stat Padders

The Official Site of the Michigan Basketball Analytics Association

Mike Bets #493

7 min read

Happy Friday. Yesterday was a 2-3 day after the Cavs-Magic over completely lost steam in the second half. Being in the negative is never ideal, but going under by just a game isn’t the end of the world. It happens. We’ll bounce back today. But first, a look at how the standings shape up after last night’s action.


The East’s top 5 is officially set – 

1) The Bucks. The Nets, Heat, Hawks, Raptors, and Bulls all remain as first round possibilities for Milwaukee, who can face either the Knicks or Cavs in the second round. 

2) The Celtics. I need to make a correction on potential playoff opponents for the second straight day (whoops). The Bulls were trapped in the 10 seed Wednesday night, which means they can’t be the 7 seed anymore since they can’t win the 7/8 game. So the Nets, Heat, Hawks, and Raptors all remain as first round possibilities for Boston. 

3) The Sixers got crushed by the Heat last night, but they already have the 3 seed locked up. They’ll face either the Nets or Heat in the first round, and then they’ll face a very tall task in taking on the Celtics without home court advantage.

4) The Cavs were down their top six players by minutes per game last night, but they still won in Orlando. They’ll get the Knicks in the first round, and the Bucks will likely await if they can get to the second round.

5) The Knicks. They’ll be facing the Cavs in the first round. 

The last guaranteed playoff spot is down to two teams – 

6) The Nets’ magic number remains at 1. Just one more win (Orlando, Philadelphia) or Heat loss locks up the 6 seed and a first round date with the Sixers. Beating the Magic tonight would be ideal. A loss creates some pressure that no one wants to deal with.

7) The Heat kept their shot at a guaranteed playoff spot alive with their win over the Sixers. They also clinched a top seven finish, which means that when they (likely) end up in the play-in, they will just need to win one of two home games to get to the playoffs. Winning out against the Wizards and Magic and seeing the Nets lose out is the only path out of the play-in.

The rest of the play-in teams are set, but seeding isn’t finalized quite yet – 

8) The Hawks’ magic number to clinch the 8 seed is down to 1. They finish with two tough games against the Sixers and Celtics, but they’d still have a decent shot at the 8 seed with two losses given that the Raptors need to play the Celtics and Bucks. They’re likely looking at a game in Miami for the 7 seed and then either the Celtics in the first round or a home game against the Raptors/Bulls for the right to face the Bucks. 

9) The Raptors need to win out and hope Atlanta loses twice to grab the 8. So they’ll likely get Chicago in Toronto in a win-or-go-home game and then visit either Miami or Atlanta with the 8 seed on the line. 

10) The Bulls are locked into the 10 seed. That means they’ll be going on the road to Toronto (likely) or Atlanta and then, if they win, visiting the loser of the 7/8 game. So Chicago will need to win two road games to get into the playoffs. 

The bottom 5 – 

11) The Pacers hold the 11 seed (and the 8 spot in the lottery) by virtue of the tiebreaker they own over both the Wizards and Magic. Winning tonight against the Pistons might just lock up their current standing.

12) The Magic lost to the Cavs in a game that featured zero players from the two teams’ regular starting lineups. Someone needs to be arrested for allowing the game to be played. The loss puts the Magic in the 12 seed and the 7 spot in the lottery. They currently have a half game lead on the Wizards in conference record, which breaks the tie.

13) The Wizards hold onto the 13 seed and the 6 spot in the lottery. Sunday’s game against the Rockets will be interesting; a win could move them down a spot in the lottery pecking order with the Magic set to face the Nets and Heat in their last two games.

Worth noting here – the Blazers (5 in the lottery) pulled off an impressive loss to the Spurs, which should all but secure their one game advantage over these three for the 5 spot. I struggle to imagine a world in which they come anywhere close to beating the Clippers or Warriors, who are both still fighting to secure top six spots out West.

14) The Hornets will have the league’s fourth-worst record. 

15) The Pistons will have the league’s worst-record. 


The top four is very nearly locked up – 

1) The Nuggets sat a ton of guys in a close loss to the Suns. The 5-11 seeds (Warriors, Clippers, Lakers, Pelicans, Timberwolves, Thunder, Mavs) are all potential first round opponents.

2) The Grizzlies have a magic number of 1 to clinch the 2 seed. Beating the Bucks or Thunder (or seeing Sacramento lose to the Warriors or Nuggets) will seal the deal and grant them that key home court advantage in any second round series. There are a number of potential first round opponents here too – the Warriors, Clippers, Lakers, Pelicans, and Timberwolves could all land the 7 or 8 seed, which would get them in the 7/8 game with a chance to get the 7 seed.

3) The Kings have zero margin for error left. If they stay in the 3 seed, the possible first round opponents are the Warriors, Clippers, Lakers, Pelicans, and Timberwolves.

4) The Suns beat the Nuggets to remain undefeated with KD. Those same teams – the Warriors, Clippers, Lakers, Pelicans, and Timberwolves – are all on the table for the first round here too. The Nuggets would await in the second round.

Plenty could change in the 5-9 range – 

5) The Clippers’ magic number to clinch a top 7 seed (edging out the Timberwolves and Lakers) is 1. They also control their own destiny for the 5 seed, being a game up on the Pelicans and owning the tiebreaker over the Warriors. Taking care of business against the Trail Blazers on Saturday might just clinch a playoff spot if a few other things go their way.

6) The Warriors control their own destiny for a guaranteed playoff spot, but they would get the 6 seed if both they and the Clippers win out. Tonight’s trip to Sacramento is big; Golden State’s road woes and Sacramento’s continued fight for seeding will make it a pretty tough spot. 

7) The Lakers likely to need to beat both the Suns and the Jazz to end the season if they want to break into the top six. The key here – LAL owns tiebreakers over both the Warriors and Pelicans. The 6 seed isn’t done quite yet. On the other hand, the Lakers could also very well finish in the 9 seed. They’re just a game up on the Timberwolves and don’t own that tiebreaker.

8) The Pelicans own the tiebreaker over the Clippers and could still beat out the Warriors by conference record, which they currently have a half game lead in. They don’t own the tiebreaker over the Lakers, however. Tonight’s game against the Knicks is pretty big. Lose, and you’re essentially playing the Timberwolves for the 8 seed in the season finale. Win, and a lot of things are still on the table. 

9) The Timberwolves are a game back of the Pelicans and Lakers with two games to play. The effort to move up from the 9 seed needs to start with a win over the Spurs tomorrow.

The 10 seed is still up for grabs – 

10) The Thunder picked up a much-needed win over the Jazz last night. They own the tiebreaker over Dallas and are now half a game up, so the magic number is down to 1. Beat the Grizzlies on Sunday, and you’re in. If you lose that game, you’re relying on the Bulls or Spurs to beat the Mavs.

11) The Mavs only have the Bulls and Spurs left on the schedule, and they could very easily win both to keep the pressure on the Thunder. Dallas doesn’t control their own destiny here, but they can give themselves a really good shot at the play-in by winning out. 

The Jazz are officially dead –

12) The Jazz are out of the play-in for good after losing to the Thunder last night. They’re locked into the 12 seed out West. They don’t own the tiebreaker over the Bulls, which means they can’t be any worse than the 9 spot in the lottery. They also own tiebreakers over the Pacers, Wizards, and Magic, which means they can’t be any better than the 9 spot in the lottery. So the 9 spot in the lottery it is.

The Blazers are fighting for lottery positioning with three teams from the East – 

13) The Blazers picked up a huge loss to the Spurs last night. Lose to the Clippers and Warriors, and the lottery 5 spot is theirs.

The Rockets and Spurs are fighting for the honor of being second-worst – 

14) The Spurs beat the Blazers, but they’re not locked into the lottery 3 spot quite yet. To rise to 2, they need to lose to both the Timberwolves and Mavs (very doable), and also hope the Rockets beat either the Hornets or Wizards (surely not impossible).  

15) The Rockets need to lose in Charlotte and Washington. That’s the goal. The Spurs did their part by beating the Blazers tonight.


NBA record: 223-193-7 ATS, 32-66 ML, 116-90-3 O/U, 1-9 parlay, 0-1 props, -19.15 units

  • Heat -6
  • Kings +9
  • Suns +9.5
  • Bulls +11

CBB record: 254-229-12 ATS, 57-83 ML, 5-5 O/U, 17-25 parlay, -9.83 units

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