Updated Playoff Odds for Every NBA Team Entering All-Star Break

Mike Walsh@WalshWritesCorrespondent IFebruary 13, 2013

Updated Playoff Odds for Every NBA Team Entering All-Star Break

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    NBA teams are running out of time to make the playoffs.

    Several don't know their postseason fate. A handful are headed to the lottery again, and another few are assured of playoff spots. But the rest are caught in the middle, meaning that plenty remains to be decided.

    Using their current records as well as recent play and extenuating circumstances, we will gauge each team's chance of making the 16-team tournament.

    We'll also be looking at each team's magic or elimination number. For teams currently outside the playoff picture, this represents the number of games needed to be won by the No. 8 seed or lost by the individual team, or any combination thereof, for them to be mathematically eliminated. For teams currently in the playoffs, it represents the number needed to clinch a playoff berth.

    There have already been some surprises, with teams unexpectedly ascending into the picture and others unexpectedly falling into the lottery. After the All-Star break, the final stretch is sure to gift us with even more surprises.

     

    Note: All magic numbers and playoff percentages via PlayoffStatus.com.

Charlotte Bobcats

1 of 30

    Record: 12-40

    Elimination Number: 18

    The Charlotte Bobcats actually have something to feel good about. After dropping seven in a row, they took down the hottest team in the NBA.

    Unfortunately, their win over the Boston Celtics still leaves them 14.5 games out of a playoff spot with only 30 games remaining. So time is fast running out for them to make some sort of incredible move up the Eastern Conference ranks. 

    Getting Byron Mullens back and making sure Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is OK after his concussion are positive signs for the Bobcats. Their 12th win already gives them five more than last season. If they win a few more games, they will have made significant strides.

    As far as making the playoffs in 2012-13 is concerned, however, your hopes are better spent somewhere else.

    Playoff Odds: Under one percent

Orlando Magic

2 of 30

    Current Record: 15-37

    Elimination Number: 20

    Even before Glen Davis went down with a broken left foot, the Orlando Magic's playoff chances were already a long shot.

    Not that the Magic were winning a lot with him in the lineup, but they are 1-6 since he got hurt four minutes into a game against the New York Knicks.

    Davis wasn't incredible by elite-player standards, but his 15.1 points and 7.2 rebounds per game meant a lot to the Magic. He is also one of the few players on their roster with extended playoff experience. 

    The team is still waiting to reap the full benefits of the Dwight Howard trade, as some of the assets are still developing. The Magic will also have the money to be players in the market this coming summer. None of that, however, helps them make the playoffs this season.

    Without Davis, this team is even younger and less prepared for a second-half push toward .500. Instead, it's gone the other way, virtually assuring itself a spot in the lottery.

    Playoff Odds: Under five percent

Phoenix Suns

3 of 30

    Current Record: 17-36

    Elimination Number: 17

    After finishing just shy of the postseason a year ago, the Phoenix Suns are in danger of being the last-place team in the Western Conference. 

    That is where they sit, 10.5 games behind the Houston Rockets for the No. 8 seed, and they don't look to have the firepower to make a serious climb. 

    Phoenix has struggled to put together back-to-back wins all season and is just 1-6 in February.

    The Suns don't do a whole lot of anything well. After bringing in a variety of average free agents, they seem to be a team without direction that hasn't jelled on the floor.

    Come the offseason, they'll have a few trade chips who have a year remaining on their deals. That is, if they don't make move an asset before the end of this season.

    Either way, this team is stuck in a holding pattern that should keep it out of the Western Conference playoffs.

    Playoff Odds: Under one percent

New Orleans Hornets

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    Current Record: 19-34

    Elimination Number: 19

    The New Orleans Hornets will more than likely end up in the lottery. The good news is, they are showing solid glimpses of potential every day.

    The team has won three of its last four and is receiving promising play from a variety of youngsters. Anthony Davis has been as good as advertised for the most part, and Austin Rivers has good and bad days. The Hornets are slowly working Eric Gordon back into the mix, and he looks pretty good.

    Pleasant surprises have been Greivis Vasquez, who has provided excellent point-guard play, and Robin Lopez, who has turned into one of the most successful big-man acquisitions of the summer. 

    New Orleans is still a year or two away from contending, but right now, it has a stockpile of talented young players that should pay off in the future.

    Playoff Odds: Under one percent

Sacramento Kings

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    Current Record: 19-35

    Elimination Number: 19

    By virtue of having a legitimate NBA superstar, the Sacramento Kings are given a better chance to make a run at the playoffs than the other bottom-tier teams. 

    Unfortunately, DeMarcus Cousins doesn't always play to his full potential, and the Kings have a variety of other problems. The relocation rumors are the chief concern for the team and its fans.

    The Kings also lack a true point guard who can run any semblance of a NBA offense, so their offense often relies on isolation plays and fast-break opportunities. On top of that, they allow an NBA-worst 103.8 points per game while playing seemingly no defense at all. 

    Defenses that putrid don't make the postseason. Barring an epic run, the Kings will once again be in the lottery.

    Playoff Odds: Under one percent

Cleveland Cavaliers

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    Current Record: 16-37

    Elimination Number: 21

    The Cleveland Cavaliers can beat up on the dregs of the league, and when Kyrie Irving truly goes off, they have a chance to beat good teams as well.

    That earned them recent wins over the Boston Celtics and Oklahoma City Thunder. The problem is, after Irving, there is not a lot to scare anyone. Still, in the preseason, the Cavaliers were a popular pick to contend for the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference. 

    That popularity dropped like a stone when Irving missed time early in the season, followed by Anderson Varejao's season-ending leg injury. That has left the Cavaliers floundering as they head into the offseason looking to improve and make a run at legitimate contention next season.

    Irving is a special player, and special players can win any game. Unfortunately, sitting 11 games out of the final playoff spot, it is going to take more than a smattering of upset wins to earn the Cavaliers a playoff berth.

    Playoff Odds: Under one percent

Washington Wizards

7 of 30

    Current Record: 15-36

    Elimination Number: 21

    The Washington Wizards recently won four straight, all over playoff teams by eight or more points. Is that a mirage, or have they really got something going?

    For the Wizards to make a successful push for the No. 8 seed would still be near-miraculous, but they are showing the blueprint. They are 10-7 since John Wall came back from injury, and their schedule in the rest of February lightens up considerably.

    Washington still is having trouble scoring consistently, but it is playing excellent defense and rebounding with the best teams in the league.

    Still, if its offense can't improve on its league-worst 91.3 points per game, this run will be nearly impossible to sustain.

    The Wizards are showing marked improvement. But being 11 games out, they still have a long road to make the playoffs.

    Playoff Odds: Under one percent

Minnesota Timberwolves

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    Current Record: 19-31

    Elimination Number: 22

    This season has rapidly become a lost cause for the Minnesota Timberwolves.

    It has taken nearly three-quarters of the season to integrate Ricky Rubio into the lineup, and they have been without Kevin Love for 31 of their 49 games, and counting. Love is out with a broken hand for the second time this season.

    In addition, the Timberwolves lost Brandon Roy early on and have struggled to piece together a winning lineup.

    Nikola Pekovic and Andrei Kirilenko have provided some positive feelings for the franchise. But the bottom line is that the Timberwolves have played much of the season without their two biggest stars.

    Until Rubio and Love can be on the court together for extended time, they will find it difficult to get into the postseason. If the Timberwolves can improve their standing slightly, perhaps there is a late-season push in them if Love returns.

    Playoff Odds: Under one percent

Detroit Pistons

9 of 30

    Current Record: 21-33

    Elimination Number: 24

    The Detroit Pistons have been wildly inconsistent this season.

    Recently, they put together big wins over the San Antonio Spurs and Milwaukee Bucks (No. 8 in East). But they followed those victories with a blowout loss to the New Orleans Hornets. 

    The Pistons have to learn to avoid that type of thing. Just a couple nights after making improvements and gaining ground in the conference, they suffered an embarrassing loss at home.

    The Pistons are only 6.5 games out of the No. 8 spot, so winning over bad teams is of paramount importance. They need to make up ground on the Bucks soon.

    The problem is, this is a young team that may not yet understand how to sustain a playoff push. Because of that, the Pistons' odds are lower than a veteran team's would be in a similar situation.

    Playoff Odds: Two percent

Toronto Raptors

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    Current Record: 21-32

    Elimination Number: 24

    The Toronto Raptors have only two teams separating them from a playoff berth. The Philadelphia 76ers are just two games ahead, but the No. 8 seed Milwaukee Bucks have a full six-game lead in the playoff chase.

    There is a pretty clear drop-off in the Eastern Conference after the top eight teams, and right now, the Raptors fall below that drop-off.

    They were recently involved in a sizable trade that brought in a great talent in Rudy Gay. The Raptors are 5-2 since the trade, but only one win (over the Indiana Pacers) has come against Eastern Conference competition. They dropped important games to the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat. A win over the Celtics would have helped them gain ground.

    They won't play Philadelphia, Milwaukee or Boston again for quite a while, which hurts their chances of advancing up the ladder even more.

    Playoff Odds: Four percent

Dallas Mavericks

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    Current Record: 23-29

    Elimination Number: 23

    The Dallas Mavericks have posted important wins recently over the Portland Trail Blazers and Golden State Warriors. Both teams are in the reachable tier of playoff teams in the Western Conference. 

    Unfortunately, the Mavericks are in the very competitive West, so instead of being only a couple games out of a playoff spot, they are 5.5 games back and still tangling with the Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Lakers on the outskirts of the top eight.

    They are just 11-14 since Dirk Nowitzki's return and aren't showing the proper improvements yet. Nowitzki, who is working his way back into form, is scoring at an ever-improving clip. But that has yet to produce many victories, as the Mavericks are just 5-5 in their last 10 games.

    With tough games ahead and a star who may not be quite 100 percent, the Mavericks have a steeper climb into the playoffs than some think.

    Playoff Odds: Five percent

Portland Trail Blazers

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    Current Record: 25-28

    Elimination Number: 25

    After losing four straight, the Portland Trail Blazers are watching their playoff odds slip quickly away.

    That recent dip included important losses to the Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks, two teams in contention for the No. 8 spot. 

    The Trail Blazers have been remarkably healthy and used the continuity in their starting five to their advantage. Things are beginning to heat up in the Western Conference, though, and Portland is showing it may not be ready to deal with that heat. 

    Their offensive leader is still a rookie point guard out of a mid-major playing in by far the biggest games of his life every night. No matter how good Damian Lillard has been this season, that must be kept in mind.

    Playoff Odds: 18 percent

Los Angeles Lakers

13 of 30

    Current Record: 25-28

    Elimination Number: 25

    Numbers can't tell us everything, and right now, the Los Angeles Lakers have a better shot at the playoffs than the Portland Trail Blazers. 

    Despite being a half-game behind them in the standings, the Lakers are 7-3 in their last 10 games, while Portland has lost five in a row. 

    Pau Gasol's injury delivers a major blow to the Lakers' postseason chances, but they remain only 3.5 games behind the Houston Rockets for the No. 8 seed. Gasol will hopefully return in time to help the Lakers finish their playoff push, but that isn't guaranteed.

    Unfortunately, over their recent stretch, the Lakers have not been beating top teams. We'll know more about them soon. They play the Los Angeles Clippers before the All-Star break and the Denver Nuggets not long after. Both teams are in front of the Lakers.

    2012-13 Playoff Odds: 18 percent

Philadelphia 76ers

14 of 30

    Current Record: 22-29

    Elimination Number: 27

    The Philadelphia 76ers roster can't be blamed for their current situation. They have fought valiantly to maintain an even keel throughout the season despite missing their major offseason acquisition.

    Andrew Bynum is the reason they've played their first season without Andre Iguodala, and he has yet to see the court. Still, the 76ers are holding steady in the No. 9 spot, waiting for their big man to help them push over the barrier into the postseason picture.

    Yet the newest 76er is still not sure when he will make his debut. Bynum has been a massive disappointment and made Philadelphia the biggest loser of the blockbuster deal that involved Iguodala and Dwight Howard. However, he can instantly make things better for himself in Philadelphia with an appearance in the playoffs. 

    Philadelphia probably can't get over the hump itself, barring a Milwaukee Bucks or Boston Celtics collapse. They will need Bynum's help, whether that comes in February or March.

    Playoff Odds: 18 percent

Milwaukee Bucks

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    Current Record: 26-25

    Magic Number: 27

    Note that we've switched now to magic numbers, as the Milwaukee Bucks are the first team currently in the playoff picture. 

    Fortunately for Milwaukee, a .500 record is good enough to get you into the playoffs right now in the Eastern Conference. The Bucks have fallen into the No. 8 spot after losing four straight and six of their last 10.

    Milwaukee hasn't been losing to a lot of teams of consequence, but because of the Boston Celtics' recent run, they lost the No. 7 seed. Now the Bucks have to refocus and hold tight to the No. 8 spot, because there are a few teams gunning for it. 

    They will face the Toronto Raptors in their next string of games, and multiple times before the season is through. If they keep losing, those games will be way more meaningful than they have to be.

    Playoff Odds: 85 percent

Houston Rockets

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    Current Record: 29-26

    Magic Number: 25

    The Houston Rockets are doing all the right things right now. Most importantly, they are beating the teams they need to beat.

    Houston has dispatched the Golden State Warriors twice in the last five games and also sent the Portland Trail Blazers packing. That has done a lot to assure the Rockets of the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference. It has also shown that they are capable of advancing up the playoff ladder. 

    Their win over Portland gave them a 2.5-game lead for the final playoff spot, and they are just 1.5 games back of the Utah Jazz for the No. 7 seed.

    Things are getting tougher in the Western Conference. But so far, the Rockets are proving they are up to the task.

    Playoff Odds: 83 percent

Utah Jazz

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    Current Record: 30-24

    Magic Number: 25

    It's getting tougher and tougher for the Utah Jazz to maintain their spot.

    They have fairly recent losses to the Houston Rockets and Portland Trail Blazers, both of which are competing for the No. 7 seed. Thankfully, a big win over the Oklahoma City Thunder has quelled their worries some.

    But with the Rockets banging on their door and those other pesky teams just outside the top eight not going anywhere, the Jazz have a lot to keep their minds busy. 

    Staying fresh over the All-Star break is infinitely important for Utah, as those other teams are sure to come with everything they've got in the final chunk of the season. 

    Utah starts with important games against the Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State Warriors. Wins there would go a long way toward turning the tables and allowing the Jazz to become the aggressors in the West instead of biding time until the playoffs.

    Playoff Odds: 79 percent

Boston Celtics

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    Current Record: 28-24

    Magic Number: 26

    At some point, things are going to catch up with the Boston Celtics. 

    They have withstood a rash of recent injuries that sent Rajon Rondo, Jared Sullinger and Leandro Barbosa home for the season. All those major injuries have occurred in the past eight games.

    Boston just had a letdown, losing to the Charlotte Bobcats after winning seven straight and climbing into the No. 7 spot in the Eastern Conference.   

    With three players now gone for the season, the Celtics are going to have to make a move to fill out their roster. The schedule doesn't cut them any slack, as they play the Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Lakers in their next two games.

    After taking on the Bulls before the All-Star break, the Celtics must hit the road for a make-or-break West Coast swing. Upon their return, we'll see how the rest of the East has fared. Only then will be able to make a more clear judgement on the Celtics' playoff hopes.

    Playoff Odds: 93 percent

Atlanta Hawks

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    Current Record: 29-22

    Magic Number: 24

    Given the turnover on their roster in the last year, the Atlanta Hawks are an interesting team.

    Without Joe Johnson, they have maintained a mid-level seed in the Eastern Conference postseason. They've overcome a devastating injury to Lou Williams and still been able to hold tight to the No. 6 spot.

    But they have lost three of their last four Eastern Conference games. This has hampered their ability to climb the standings and out of danger. Losses to the Indiana Pacers and Chicago Bulls leave the Hawks still vulnerable to a late-season push by one of the fringe teams.

    In March, it will be important for the Hawks to solidify their position and perhaps push ahead of the Brooklyn Nets, who they trail by a game.

    Postseason Odds: 98 percent

Golden State Warriors

20 of 30

    Current Record: 30-22

    Magic Number: 24

    It isn't time yet to call the Golden State Warriors' recent four-game losing streak a "free fall."

    But it is a reason to be a bit alarmed. The Warriors are rapidly losing ground on the Western Conference's top five, having fallen 1.5 games behind the Denver Nuggets.

    They sit just 1.5 games below the Utah Jazz, making their last game before the All-Star break infinitely important. A win over Utah decreases the deficit to half a game while also putting that nasty losing streak talk to bed before a long weekend of analysis.

    The greater concern with the recent stumble is dropping two games to the Houston Rockets, currently the No. 8 seed. The Warriors should want no part of the battle about to ensue for that spot. They need to quickly separate themselves from that mess.

    Playoff Odds: 96 percent

Brooklyn Nets

21 of 30

    Current Record: 31-22

    Magic Number: 22

    With an eight-game lead on the Philadelphia 76ers, who are in the No. 9 spot, the Brooklyn Nets have to feel good about securing a playoff berth for their new-look franchise.

    Even though it has been a season of some turmoil (head-coaching change), the Nets have emerged as a playoff team in the Eastern Conference. Their issue is that they have not separated themselves from the rest of the pack. They stand just a game ahead of Atlanta and have been torched by the Miami Heat three times.

    Coming out of the All-Star break, the Nets can do a lot to ruin the Milwaukee Bucks' playoff hopes with a back-to-back starting Feb. 19. That should be their immediate goal, with statement games also coming up against the Chicago Bulls and Hawks.

    The Nets can't limp into the postseason. If they do, they'll be beaten up in the first round. But if they enter on fire, they are a team that can really go deep.

    Playoff Odds: Above 99 percent

Chicago Bulls

22 of 30

    Current Record: 30-22

    Magic Number: 23

    The Chicago Bulls have been one of the most admirable teams in the NBA this season.

    They have gutted their way into a top-five seed in the Eastern Conference despite playing the entire season without their best player, Derrick Rose

    There is still no timetable for Rose's return, but when he gets back, they may even be able to make a run at the conference leaders. They are currently just 1.5 games back of the Indiana Pacers for the No. 3 slot.

    Rose returning soon would considerably improve the Bulls' playoff odds. But until then, they remain with the rest of the teams in the middle of the pack. They are a half-game behind the Brooklyn Nets right now after losing their last game before the All-Star break to the Boston Celtics.

    Playoff Odds: Above 99 percent

Memphis Grizzlies

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    Current Record: 33-18

    Magic Number: 21

    The Memphis Grizzlies are the best of the rest in the Western Conference playoff race.

    They are 2.5 games behind the Los Angeles Clippers, marking the void between the elite teams and those still trying to get there. Thanks to a three-game win streak, the Grizzlies have been able to pass the Denver Nuggets and move into the No. 4 seed. But only one game separates them from that No. 5 spot and the loss of home-court advantage. 

    Seeing how good the Nuggets are at home (22-3), that is something they don't want to lose.

    With five easy games coming out of the All-Star break, the Nuggets will have an opportunity to lock up their seeding and a playoff spot.

    Playoff Odds: Above 99 percent

Denver Nuggets

24 of 30

    Current Record: 33-21

    Magic Number: 21

    After dropping their last three games, the Denver Nuggets may not look entirely deserving of the No. 4 seed. However, those losses came after a nine-game win streak and included a triple-overtime loss to the Boston Celtics.

    Rarely is this break a rest for the entire roster of a legitimate contender, but that is what the Nuggets have run into here. They have no All-Stars on their roster, but remain one of the league's top teams.

    Having their whole team get some rest will give the Nuggets a minor advantage and allow them to come out running the second half of the season.

    Since five of the Nuggets' last seven games will be in Denver, where they are 22-3, I give them the edge over Memphis.

    Playoff Odds: Above 99 percent

Indiana Pacers

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    Current Record: 32-21

    Magic Number: 23

    Like the Chicago Bulls, the Indiana Pacers have made themselves into a contender in the Eastern Conference despite not having their best offensive player.

    Danny Granger has yet to play this season, but is nearing a return. When he gets back, he should be able to help the 28th-ranked Pacers offense score more than 92.8 points per game. 

    Defensively and on the glass, the Pacers are as elite as it gets, boasting the league's top scoring defense, allowing only 89.9 points per game.

    Indiana recently reeled off a five-game win streak, mostly against Eastern Conference playoff contenders, so the recent two-game dip was not too worrisome. The Pacers bounced back with a 101-77 win over the Bobcats before the All-Star break.

    After the break, the Pacers will have one of two remaining statement games against the No. 2 seed New York Knicks. Sweeping them the rest of the way would be huge for Indiana's confidence and would give the Pacers the opportunity to swipe that seed from the Knicks.

    Playoff Odds: Above 99 percent

New York Knicks

26 of 30

    Current Record: 32-18

    Magic Number: 21

    A 10.5-game lead on the Philadelphia 76ers should have the New York Knicks feeling pretty comfortable about their playoff chances this season.

    But they have their sights set on bigger fish, so to speak. Three games separate them from home-court advantage through the Eastern Conference playoffs. The Miami Heat still stand in their way, though. Despite the Knicks dispatching Miami twice in the regular season, the Heat currently have the advantage. 

    The Knicks will get two more chances to assert themselves over the defending champs. But unless they get help elsewhere, they'll have a hard time surmounting that three-game lead.

    New York also has to keep an eye on the Indiana Pacers, who it'll see twice more. The Pacers are 1.5 games behind them, but are charging and on the verge of getting Danny Granger back.

    Playoff Odds: Above 99 percent

Los Angeles Clippers

27 of 30

    Current Record: 38-17

    Magic Number: 17

    The Los Angeles Clippers have righted the ship and finished off their long Eastern Conference road trip at 4-4. 

    That's an acceptable finish for the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference. They blew the doors off the New York Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers. On Wednesday, they extended their winning streak to three games after beating the Houston Rockets, 106-96.

    The Clippers will have their sights set on the San Antonio Spurs in that first game out of the break in hopes of making up ground on the Western Conference leaders.

    The Clippers have an 11.5-game lead on the Portland Trail Blazers, so they should comfortably be in the round of 16.

    Playoff Odds: Above 99 percent

Miami Heat

28 of 30

    Current Record: 35-14

    Magic Number: 16

    The Miami Heat stopped worrying about making the playoffs a couple months ago. But for the sake of discussion, they have a 14-game lead on the Philadelphia 76ers.

    More importantly, they have a 3.5-game lead on the New York Knicks for the No. 1 seed and home-court advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs. That should be the first goal for the Heat, as they needed every bit of home-court advantage to get past the Boston Celtics in the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals. 

    The Heat have won six straight, but would probably sacrifice them all for a win on Feb. 14 over the Oklahoma City Thunder. After beating the Thunder at home on Christmas Day, this is the last chance the Heat will have to take them on, barring a 2012 NBA Finals rematch this season.

    Playoff Odds: Above 99 percent

Oklahoma City Thunder

29 of 30

    Current Record: 39-13

    Magic Number: 15

    The Oklahoma City Thunder are eager to seize the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference from the San Antonio Spurs.

    To do so, they can't have hiccup games like the recent losses to the Cleveland Cavaliers or Washington Wizards. The Western Conference is so competitive and the Spurs so consistent that minor slip-ups can cost you home-court advantage in the conference finals.

    They get the Spurs twice more at the end the season, and those games should be immensely important.

    Feb. 14 is less important tactically, but more important emotionally. The Thunder lost badly in the NBA Finals last season and fell again at the Miami Heat's South Beach home on Christmas Day. This game could provide a measure of revenge for the Thunder. 

    Playoff Odds: Above 99 percent

San Antonio Spurs

30 of 30

    Current Record: 42-12

    Magic Number: 13

    The San Antonio Spurs are mathematically the closest team to clinching a playoff spot. 

    This is a spot they fully deserve, as they once again have the NBA's best record. They have a chance to extend that with a win over the Cleveland Cavaliers before the All-Star break.

    They have begun their nine-game road trip 3-1 and will continue it with big games after the break against the Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State Warriors.

    The Spurs want to maintain their 1.5-game lead over the Oklahoma City Thunder for the No. 1 seed, as they will need home-court advantage should they face the Thunder again in the conference finals.

    Playoff Odds: Above 99 percent