Updated Playoff Odds for Every NBA Team at the End of January

Josh Martin@@JoshMartinNBANBA Lead WriterFebruary 1, 2013

Updated Playoff Odds for Every NBA Team at the End of January

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    It seems like only yesterday that the calendar turned from 2012 to 2013. Evidently, time flies much faster when there's as much going on in the NBA as there has been in the month of January.

    Every team in the league will have moved past the halfway mark of the season by the beginning of February. The bulk of the postseason picture in each conference has stood pat since we last checked in with John Hollinger's playoff odds, though there have been some significant shifts in percentages on the fringes.

    With that in mind, let's have a look at where all 30 teams stand as we venture into the second month of the not-so-new year.

Scrambling for Lotto Tickets

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    Charlotte Bobcats (11-34)

    Bad news: the Bobcats continue to own the worst record in the NBA after suffering through a 102-78 loss to the San Antonio Spurs—their 29th such result in their last 33 outings since a 7-5 start.

    Good news: If the season ended today, Charlotte would have the best shot at landing the No. 1 pick in the 2013 NBA draft.

    More bad news: The 2013 draft pool is widely considered to be among the shallowest in recent memory.

    Playoff Chances: 0.0 Percent

    Washington Wizards (11-33)

    Win or lose, at least the Wizards are playing competitive basketball now that John Wall is back in the fold. Washington's 92-84 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on January 30th was its "worst" since Wall's return from a banged-up knee.

    Playoff Chances: 1.3 Percent

    Cleveland Cavaliers (13-33)

    What does it say about the Cavaliers that four of their players—Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiter, Tristan Thompson and Tyler Zeller—will be partaking in the Rising Stars Challenge during All-Star Weekend?

    Aside from pointing to extreme youth (Cleveland's roster is the third-youngest in the NBA), this might suggest that the future is bright for the Cavs, especially if LeBron James returns, as a certain journalist who works for a certain website thinks might happen in 2014.

    For now, though, the Cavs will have to settle for major stinkitude.

    Playoff Chances: 1.1 Percent

    Orlando Magic (14-31)

    What do the Magic have in common with Frank Ricard?

    They both tend toward streaking. Orlando's current seven-game skid marks its third of the season of at least five games.

    The longest? A 10-gamer between December 21st and January 9th.

    Which brings to mind another parallel between the Magic and the most colorful character from Old School—they're both closely associated with the word "tank."

    Playoff Chances: 0.4 Percent

    New Orleans Hornets (15-31)

    The Hornets are clearly playing much better ball now that the core of the team (i.e. Eric Gordon, Anthony Davis, Ryan Anderson) is finally playing together. Aside from a recent 18-point loss to the streaky Rockets, New Orleans hasn't lost a game by more than five points since January 13th.

    A warning to the rest of the NBA: The Hornets will have plenty more opportunities to play spoiler in February.

    Playoff Chances: 1.6 Percent

    Phoenix Suns (16-30)

    What a difference an emotional win makes. One day, the Suns are running Steve Nash's Lakers out of the building in the fourth quarter after Dwight Howard exits with the umpteenth aggravation of his torn labrum. The next, Hoopsworld has Phoenix in the mix for disgruntled Hawks forward Josh Smith.

    Smells like someone is trying to save his/her job after doing so poorly to revamp a roster after parting ways with a surefire Hall of Famer. I'm looking at you, Lon Babby and Lance Blanks.

    Playoff Chances: 0.4 Percent

    Sacramento Kings (17-30)

    The Kings are terrible but can at least be kept afloat knowing that there are other teams worse off than they are. They won six games in the month of January, all against the dregs of the Eastern Conference, including the Charlotte Bobcats, the Toronto Raptors, the Cleveland Cavaliers (twice) and the Washington Wizards (twice).

    There's something coming up in the East alright, and it sure ain't promising just yet.

    Playoff Chances: 0.0 Percent

A Snowball's Chance...but Close Enough to Consider

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    Minnesota Timberwolves (17-25)

    Coming into the season, who'd have thought that Friday's matchup between Minneapolis' past (the Lakers) and present (the Timberwolves) would feature two teams that are a combined 14 games below .500?

    Given the injuries on the perimeter (Steve Nash in L.A., Ricky Rubio and Brandon Roy in Minnesota) and up front (Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol for the Lakers, Kevin Love for the T-Wolves) for these two ball clubs, the shortfall of expectations makes plenty of sense.

    Playoff Chances: 3.0 Percent

    Toronto Raptors (16-30)

    Three words to describe why the Raptors are still in the hunt for a playoff spot at all: Location, location, location.

    Location, because they play in the Eastern Conference, where the race for the eighth seed is wide open in the wake of Rajon Rondo's injury and will remain so unless/until the Boston Celtics do something to replace him.

    Location, because they play in the Eastern Conference, which is generally weak, though Toronto's upcoming schedule (home vs. the Clippers, the Heat, the Celtics, at Indiana) is a killer.

    Location, because the Raptors' thinking that free agents might not want to move to Canada probably played into their pursuit of Rudy Gay. The addition of Gay may not do much for the Raps' ability to build a contender long-term, though it does add to their overall talent level in pursuit of a low-level playoff seed.

    Playoff Chances: 9.2 Percent

    Detroit Pistons (17-29)

    Speaking of Rudy Gay-related trade news, the Pistons came out ahead in the deal by dumping Austin Daye (a talented youngster/seemingly-lost cause) and Tayshaun Prince (the last vestige of the 2004 title team with a hefty salary) for Raptors point guard Jose Calderon. In Calderon, Detroit finally has itself a competent, pass-first point guard who can teach Brandon Knight a thing or two about running and offense and connect with Andre Drummond for alley-oops galore.

    The Pistons shouldn't expect to see the next Nash—except on defense, where Jose has long been a liability—but Calderon is a clear upgrade for a team in dire need of a glue guy at the point. 

    Playoff Chances: 9.8 Percent

    Dallas Mavericks (19-26)

    The basketball gods haven't been too kind to Mark Cuban's club. They've dropped three of five, all by six points or fewer, since stringing together four wins in a row. The Mavs' last loss—106-104 to the Portland Trail Blazers—was particularly gut-wrenching given the 20-point lead that Dallas owned in the third quarter.

    Playoff Chances: 15.8 Percent

    Philadelphia 76ers (19-26)

    Another day, another injection into Andrew Bynum's knees. According to the unfortunately-named John Finger of CSNPhilly.com, the All-Star center received Synvisc injections into both of his knees on January 31st.

    Which, as Finger points out (sorry, I couldn't help myself), might actually be good news for the Sixers, since such indicates that Bynum's about to ramp up his level of activity again.

    Playoff Chances: 15.2 Percent

    Los Angeles Lakers (20-26)

    It's been a joy to watch Kobe Bryant play the role of "Point God" over the Lakers' last four games. But a 92-86 loss to the Phoenix Suns in Steve Nash's return brought back to the fore a more troubling sign for this struggling squad.

    That is, Dwight Howard's torn labrum isn't going to get any better from here on out and is liable to get worse with each swipe across his arms. The Lakers are 0-3 without Howard this season and were outscored by 11 points after he left their most recent game in the fourth quarter.

    Playoff Chances: 29.0 Percent

Clowns to the Left of Me, Jokers to the Right...

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    Boston Celtics (22-23)

    So far, so good for the Celtics sans Rajon Rondo. A 99-81 win over the clumsy Kings moved Boston to 2-0 since Rondo's ACL split and 4-3 overall on the season without their All-Star point guard.

    Perhaps it's too early to implore the C's to "blow it up." Or, perhaps a blowout win over Sacramento means diddly squat. You decide.

    Playoff Chances: 74.1 Percent

    Portland Trail Blazers (23-22)

    Three out of four ain't bad for the Blazers, especially when two of those wins came against surefire playoff teams—the Clippers and the Pacers.

    The third wasn't too shabby either. In its most recent outing, Portland battled back from a 20-point third-quarter deficit to stun the Mavericks on a buzzer-beating jumper by All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge.

    Which was almost as stunning as the three-pointer LMA hit to tie the game at 104-104—his first make in 10 tries from beyond the arc this season.

    Playoff Chances: 26.7 Percent

    Houston Rockets (25-23)

    Here's the thing about the Rockets' fast-paced, rim-attacking-and-three-point-shooting, defense-optional style of play: it's a ton of fun to watch and will occasionally yield an impressive blowout or two, like a recent 125-80 annihilation of the plodding Utah Jazz.

    But, when matched up against a quality opponent that also likes to run, it leaves Houston vulnerable to the sort of comeuppance that the Denver Nuggets delivered on January 30th. Turning the ball over a ton (22 against Denver, 30th in team turnover percentage overall) and allowing other teams to run and rack up points in the paint like they do just isn't a good look for a Rockets squad that still fancies itself a playoff participant.

    Playoff Chances: 83.7 Percent

    Utah Jazz (25-21)

    In a related story, it's clear that the Jazz would pick a slow opponent every time if they had the choice. Two days after suffering the worst home loss in franchise history to the NBA's fastest-paced squad (i.e. the Rockets), Utah eked out a five-point win over the Hornets, who play the second-slowest pace in basketball as measured by possessions per game.

    Also of note: Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap combined for 47 points and 15 rebounds in that effort. Also also of note: They're big and typically prefer not to run up and down the court.

    Playoff Chances: 46.7 Percent

    Milwaukee Bucks (24-20)

    The Bucks ran up against their ever-middling ceiling once again in a 104-88 loss to the Derrick Rose-less Bulls. Once again, Milwaukee struggled to take care of the ball and create good shots on one end and made a mediocre offense look the part of a juggernaut on the other, even with Carlos Boozer out with a sore hamstring.

    The Bucks are still well on their way to cracking the postseason picture in the Eastern Conference under interim coach Jim Boylan. Just don't expect any of their potential opponents to "Fear the Deer" come playoff time.

    Playoff Chances: 95.8 Percent

    Atlanta Hawks (26-19)

    The Hawks have won four of their last five since sliding from third to sixth in the East, but the damage has (probably) already been done. Atlanta is without a legitimate scorer and shot creator now that Lou Williams is done for the year, leaving the team to toil for its sixth middling playoff spot in as many seasons.

    A potential trade that would send Josh Smith to the Phoenix Suns for Marcin Gortat and assorted slop (per Alex Kennedy of Hoopsworld) would further accelerate general manager Danny Ferry's rebuilding project.

    Playoff Chances: 95.4 Percent

A Step (or Two) Below

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    Brooklyn Nets (27-19)

    It's official: The Nets have had their "Icarus" moment of the 2012-13 season. They flew too close to the proverbial sun when Reggie Evans dissed Miami's lockout-shortened title and likened LeBron to Joe Johnson and Andray Blatche.

    Which probably didn't come off so well with Johnson and Blatche, Evans' Brooklyn teammates. It's unlikely that they appreciated being invoked to call James' legitimacy as a superstar into question.

    In any case, the Heat proved too much for the Nets to handle (as expected) in a 105-85 defeat. Think they might want Reggie to hold his tongue next time? 

    Playoff Chances: 98.9 Percent

    Indiana Pacers (27-19)

    Help is on the way for the Pacers, who'd dropped three in a row out West before righting the ship against the punching-bag Pistons. According to Chris Widlic of WISHTV 8 in Indianapolis, Danny Granger is back at practice with the Pacers after missing the first three months of the season with knee tendinosis.

    Chances are Granger won't be back in time for Indy's next game against the Heat. Whenever he returns, you can bet the Pacers' 29th-ranked offense will be better for it.

    Playoff Chances: 99.4 Percent

    Denver Nuggets (29-18)

    You know all that fun the Nuggets had been having at home all through the month of January?

    Unfortunately, that'll have to go on hold for a bit in February. Denver will spend the first week of the next month at home before playing seven of nine games on the road.

    Where, it should be noted, the Nuggets are a less-than-sterling 10-15 so far.

    Playoff Chances: 98.9 Percent

    Golden State Warriors (28-17)

    Get well soon, Stephen Curry! According to Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News, the sweet-shooting scoring guard is a game-time decision for the Warriors with yet another injury to his right ankle against the Mavericks to end the month. 

    Even if Curry doesn't play, Golden State will gladly welcome back Andrew Bogut, Harrison Barnes and Carl Landry, all of whom sat out a recent win in Cleveland. The Dubs should be able to survive fairly well without Curry for now, so long as Klay Thompson and backup point guard Jarrett Jack continue to set the NBA ablaze from the backcourt.

    Playoff Chances: 94.9 Percent

    Chicago Bulls (28-17)

    A 28-17 record and the third seed in the Eastern Conference are all well and good, but only one thing matters for the Bulls right about now: Derrick Rose is taking full contact in practice and is due back shortly after the All-Star break (per Nick Friedell of ESPNChicago.com).

    With the way Chicago has played this season sans D-Rose and the weakness in the East (particularly beneath Miami), a run to the conference finals is hardly out of the question for these Bulls in 2013.

    Playoff Chances: 99.5 Percent

    New York Knicks (28-15)

    Kudos to Carmelo Anthony for recording his 30th straight game of 20 points or more—a new Knicks franchise record—against the Orlando Magic.

    Of greater concern is the game of Whack-a-Mole in which New York seems to be stuck with regard to the training table. The Knicks can't seem to bring back key players (Iman Shumpert, Raymond Felton) without seeing another (Jason Kidd) picking up a "DNP." Such is the price to be paid when employing the oldest roster in NBA history.

    Playoff Chances: 99.9 Percent

    Memphis Grizzlies (29-15)

    Whether you like what Memphis did, hate it or find your opinion of it somewhere in between, I think we can all agree that the Grizzlies will be a markedly different team without Rudy Gay. Perhaps the Grizz needed to move on from Gay's onerous contract at some point and did well to bring back Ed Davis, Tayshaun Prince and, to a lesser extent, Austin Daye. Or, perhaps Memphis should've hung onto Rudy until the summer and seen what this team can accomplish with its now-defunct nucleus.

    In either case, it's tough to imagine a shooting-deprived team with a bottom-10 offense truly contending for the title in this or any season, even with one of the stingiest defenses in basketball on the other end.

    Playoff Chances: 99.2 Percent

A Cut Above

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    Miami Heat (29-13)

    It's still tough to tell exactly where the Heat stand at the halfway mark of their title defense. On the one hand, an overtime loss to the Rondo-less Celtics shows just how vulnerable Miami is and can be against big, physical opponents.

    On the other hand, a 20-point shellacking of the Nets shows that the Heat are more than able to dominate when they're properly motivated. Expect them to be motivated just so come mid-April

    Playoff Chances: 100.0 Percent

    Los Angeles Clippers (34-13)

    There's no use coming down too hard on the Clippers, even with a four-game losing streak not yet out of sight in their rearview mirror. Long-suffering fans in L.A. can start to fret if/when Chris Paul's bruised knee limits his effectiveness in the postseason.

    In the meantime, CP3's absence has allowed Blake Griffin to take on more responsibility and has opened up an opportunity for backup point guard Eric Bledsoe to showcase his considerable skills.

    Which should come in handy over the summer when the rest of the league's general managers come calling for Bledsoe's services.

    Playoff Chances: 100.0 Percent

    Oklahoma City Thunder (34-11)

    The Thunder have had plenty of time to recuperate from their loss to the seemingly resurgent Lakers. As big as that one was for L.A., it's hardly worth holding against OKC. After all, that game was the last in a season-long six-game road trip for the Thunder.

    Kevin Durant and company certainly won't mind playing four of their next five games at home, where they've won 19 times in 22 attempts.

    Playoff Chances: 100.0 Percent

    San Antonio Spurs (37-11)

    Tim Duncan picked a dandy time to rest his sore left knee. The Spurs smashed the bumbling Bobcats, 102-78, without the Big Fundamental on January 30th. The win was San Antonio's ninth in a row and 17th straight at home.

    Moreover, it moved the Spurs to 4-0 during Duncan's latest absence and 5-1 overall when Timmy's picked up a "DNP." 

    Playoff Chances: 100.0 Percent