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Updated Playoff Odds for Every NBA Team Entering Season's Final Push

Bryant KnoxFeatured ColumnistApril 3, 2013

Updated Playoff Odds for Every NBA Team Entering Season's Final Push

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    Attention, NBA fans. We have officially hit crunch time.

    The 2012-13 regular season is nearly over, and the playoffs are on the minds of viewers all across the country. Whether your team is in or out, you're a fan for a reason, and if competitive basketball is what you crave, the best time of the year is almost upon us.

    While the Eastern Conference is all but locked up, an intriguing race out West keeps getting more exciting. The end of the year can be tough to predict, but with every passing game, every team's postseason odds become increasingly clear.

    It's time for each squad to step up for the final push, as there will be plenty of time to rest once their seasons come to an end.

Eastern Conference Teams That Have Been Eliminated

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    Charlotte Bobcats (17-57)

    The 2012-13 season can't end soon enough for the Bobcats. Much was made about the team's 7-5 start, but nicely put, it was all downhill from there.

     

    Orlando Magic (19-56)

    We all knew that the Magic were going to struggle without Dwight Howard. This team needs to re-focus and find its identity, and when it does, it will have a chance to sneak into the postseason in a top-heavy Eastern Conference.

     

    Cleveland Cavaliers (22-51)

    With fewer games lost to injuries, we might be looking at a run at the playoffs for the Cavaliers. Cleveland followed an impressive 2011-12 campaign with utter disappointment, but a healthy roster and another lottery piece will do wonders for them over the summer.

     

    Detroit Pistons (25-50)

    When Andre Drummond went down with a back injury, we might as well have buried the Pistons right then and there. In 23 games without the big man, Detroit went 6-17. And despite his return on March 29, it won just a single game during the month of March.

     

    Toronto Raptors (27-47)

    A 108-98 loss to the Detroit Pistons officially eliminated this team on April 1. The Toronto Raptors have the talent to compete in 2013-14, and another year in the lottery will only help their chances.

Washington Wizards

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    Record: 28-46 

    Conference Standings: 10th 

    So you're telling me there's a chance?

    The Wizards are on the brink of elimination, but that they remain in contention entering the final month is worth celebrating.

    Their start was as ugly as it could have been for Washington and its fans. The team began 0-12, was without John Wall, its star point guard, and rookie Bradley Beal was plagued by inconsistency and poor shooting.

    Thirty-two games into the season, this group was just 4-28. But then things quickly began to turn around.

    With Wall back in the lineup, the Wizards actually began winning games. They've become a threat to anybody inside The Verizon Center, and they've officially handed the title of worst team in the NBA back to the Charlotte Bobcats.

    Washington has been on the right side of .500 since that 32-game mark. And while the season was actually lost early, this group deserves to hold its head high as the year comes to a close.

    Playoff Odds: One percent

Philadelphia 76ers

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    Record: 30-43

    Conference Standings: 9th

    For all intents and purposes, the Philadelphia 76ers are out of the playoffs. The Eastern Conference has looked locked up for a while, and this team sits six games back of the eighth spot with just two weeks to go.

    That being said, it's never over until it's over.

    With the acquisition of Andrew Bynum, the Sixers were supposed to be a playoff-caliber team. But with him on the sidelines for the entire season, they failed to find the success they expected.

    Philly is the second-least productive scoring team in the league—a category that would have been much improved with a consistent low-post option.

    With Bynum's looming contract situation, the future of this team is up in the air. Jrue Holiday has been a breath of fresh air in an otherwise disappointing season, but he needs help for this team to improve.

    Playoff Odds: Three percent

Milwaukee Bucks

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    Record: 36-37

    Conference Standings: 8th

    It would take a colossal collapse for the Bucks to miss the playoffs, which means seeding has become the focus down the stretch.

    The goal for any team in the East is to avoid the Miami Heat as long as possible. The Bucks gave the team from South Beach trouble throughout the regular season. But that in no way means they want a piece of them in the first round. 

    A bump up to the seventh seed would ensure that they don't see Miami until the conference finals—if they can beat their first two opponents, of course.

    Unfortunately for Milwaukee, it is trending in the wrong direction. It dropped five of its last six games in March, and matchups with the Heat, New York Knicks, Denver Nuggets and Oklahoma City Thunder still await.

    This team is likely headed for the last spot in the postseason, but at least that's better than seven other teams in the East can can claim.

    Playoff Odds: 98 percent

Boston Celtics

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    Record: 38-36

    Conference Standings: 7th

    No matter how old, beaten up or inconsistent the Celtics are, it wouldn't feel right to watch them miss the playoffs.

    This team has been tough to predict in 2012-13. The idea that it might be better without Rajon Rondo spread with a seven-game winning streak. But that notion was short-lived, as a five-game skid in March reminded everyone just how important the point guard is.

    Which Boston team shows up will determine how far it can go in the postseason. Whether it plays the New York Knicks, the Indiana Pacers or the Miami Heat, it should be an entertaining series for fans of physical basketball.

    The Celtics have been known to play up to their competition, and that's exactly what it will take to make noise in the Eastern Conference.

    Playoff Odds: 99 percent

Eastern Conference Teams in the Playoffs

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    Chicago Bulls (40-33)

    For the Bulls to even be in the playoffs is more than some expected with Derrick Rose sitting on the sidelines. They've won games with their defense, which means even without their star, they're still capable of competing on a physical level.

     

    Atlanta Hawks (42-33)

    Nobody quite knew what to expect out of the Hawks entering 2012-13. They rid themselves of Joe Johnson and Marvin Williams, yet they've still been in the mix all year—even with the season-ending injury to Lou Williams.

     

    Brooklyn Nets (42-31)

    The Nets have the talent in their starting lineup to compete with just about anyone. Their inconsistencies have been a problem, but they have the size and defensive abilities to bother top-tier opponents in a seven-game series.

     

    Indiana Pacers (48-27)

    The Pacers might be the best defensive team in basketball. That's something that they'll have to ride deep into the playoffs, as their offense is just 21st in scoring.

     

    New York Knicks (47-26)

    The big question with the Knicks is, can we trust them? Recent history would suggest that the answer is no, but they've looked like a completely motivated team since their disappointing showing in the 2012 playoffs.

     

    Miami Heat (58-16)

    An historic 27-game winning streak re-established the Miami Heat as the best team in the Association. We all wondered if they could flip the switch whenever they wanted, and it looks like the answer was a resounding yes.

Western Conference Teams That Have Been Eliminated

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    Phoenix Suns (23-51)

    The post-Steve Nash era didn't get off to the best start for the Suns. A weak draft class may or may not help them become relevant in 2013. But what we do know is that the roster as is won't be in the playoffs anytime soon.

     

    New Orleans Hornets (26-48)

    The Hornets have some good, young talent that should develop nicely as time goes on. Unfortunately, time and talent are two things they won't add down the stretch, which means the postseason will have to wait at least another year.

     

    Sacramento Kings (27-47)

    If any team's future is more in flux than the Kings', I can't name it. Between a potential move and inconsistent talent, the Kings made it obvious early that they weren't going to be contending in 2012-13.

     

    Minnesota Timberwolves (27-46)

    The Timberwolves have been hit about as hard as anybody when it comes to injuries. A healthy Minnesota team might have competed for a spot in the playoffs, but a depleted one caused an improved roster to post disappointing results.

Portland Trail Blazers

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    Record: 33-41 

    Conference Standings: 11th

    Generously speaking, the Trail Blazers still have a chance to sneak into the playoffs. They're only five-and-a-half games games out of the No. 8 spot, but their schedule is absolutely brutal with April now upon us.

    The truth is that there have been many highlights for Portland this season. Damian Lillard appears to be the runaway Rookie of the Year, Nicolas Batum has seemingly lived up to his contract and LaMarcus Aldridge was an All-Star for the second straight season.

    This team exceed expectations most of the way, but youth and a shallow roster is what will keep them out of contention.

    Playoff Odds: One percent

Dallas Mavericks

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    Record: 36-38

    Conference Standings: 10th

    The Dallas Mavericks have made the postseason 12 straight years, but it appears that the streak will come to an end in 2013.

    The Mavs encountered one of the biggest makeovers of any team heading into the year. The new roster never came together like they hoped it would, and the early absence of Dirk Nowitzki certainly didn't help.

    Down the stretch, Dallas has actually been playing good basketball, but the problem is that it appears to be too little, too late. Not only does this group need to keep winning, but it needs the Los Angles Lakers and the Utah Jazz to continue losing.

    If the Mavericks have anything going for them, it's playing four of their final five contests at home—three of which are against the Phoenix Suns and the New Orleans Hornets. But with L.A. and Utah as such major parts of the equation, fate no longer lies in their hands.

    Playoff Odds: Five percent

Los Angeles Lakers

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    Record: 39-36

    Conference Standings: 9th

    Back in February, Kobe Bryant told Jack McCallum of Sports Illustrated, "We will make the playoffs."

    That guarantee has yet to come to fruition, but a strong finish to the year could extend the Lakers' season.

    With the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel getting brighter, it appears as if the eighth seed belongs to either the Utah Jazz or the Lakers. L.A. needs to take advantage of five games at home—six if you include a road game against the Los Angeles Clippers—and it has to win close contests.

    Dwight Howard has stated that the Lakers need to win every remaining game (according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN). That plan of action began with a win over the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday night.

    Regardless of what happens, L.A. has not lived up to its own gaudy expectations. A run in the postseason would help its cause. But needless to say, the year hasn't gone as anybody planned. 

    Playoff Odds: 45 percent

Utah Jazz

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    Record: 39-36

    Conference Standings: 8th

    The Utah Jazz have one substantial reason to be optimistic down the stretch.

    When it comes to the race for the No. 8 spot, they own the tiebreakers with the Los Angeles Lakers and the Dallas Mavericks.

    Utah won the season series against both Western Conference opponents. Dallas and L.A. not only have to catch up with the Jazz; they have to exceed them in the wins column by the end of the year.

    The problem for the Jazz is the schedule. They still have to play the Denver Nuggets, Golden State Warriors, Oklahoma City Thunder and Memphis Grizzlies.

    That's not exactly a recipe for success, meaning they can't get comfortable knowing they have the edge in the case of a tie.

    Playoff Odds: 55 percent

Houston Rockets

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    Record: 41-33

    Conference Standings: 7th

    Unlike the Los Angeles Lakers, who have disappointed virtually all season, the Rockets have exceeded almost every expectation.

    This team endured a flurry of moves during the offseason, and a failed attempt to bring in Dwight Howard left the roster with youth and inexperience galore. The acquisitions of Omer Asik, Jeremy Lin and James Harden certainly added optimism, but the playoffs still looked like a long shot at the beginning of the year.

    Now, with the season winding down, the question appears to be, how far can it go?

    Houston has an offense that has caught fire too many times to count, but its defense is a major concern. A 105 points-per-game average is good enough for second in the league, but allowing 102.3 points per contest will be a problem in the playoffs.

    Regardless of how this team performs, the season has been a success. These players should hold their heads high, as the postseason is just around the corner.

    Playoff Odds: 95 percent

Golden State Warriors

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    Record: 42-32

    Conference Standings: 6th

    To begin the 2012-13 season, the Warriors were one of the league's surprises. You knew coming in that their improved roster would find success, but competing for home-court advantage was beyond what most expected.

    Home court is now out of the picture, but a return to the playoffs will be welcomed by one of the Association's best fanbases.

    The Warriors have been entertaining all season. Stephen Curry and David Lee have played extremely well together, and several young players have provided both depth and talent to their improving unit.

    Although their seeding isn't set, you can't trust the teams behind them to completely knock them out. The Houston Rockets have a chance to take over the sixth seed, but it appears a playoff spot is awaiting them regardless.

    Playoff Odds: 98 percent

Western Conference Teams in the Playoffs

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    Memphis Grizzlies (50-24)

    The old cliche is that defense wins championships. If this holds true in 2013, the Grizzlies are on the right path.

     

    Los Angeles Clippers (49-26)

    The Clippers are about as entertaining as it comes. The big question is, can they compete in a seven-game series with either the Oklahoma City Thunder or the San Antonio Spurs?

     

    Denver Nuggets (50-24)

    While the Miami Heat were making history, the Nuggets were quietly getting hot at the right time. Before two losses at the end of March, the team had won 15 straight and made a legitimate case for a third-place finish.

     

    Oklahoma City Thunder (50-24)

    The Thunder are the reigning Western Conference champions, and they're making it their mission to return to the NBA Finals. They should be considered favorites over almost every team in the West.

     

    San Antonio Spurs (55-19)

    With Manu Ginobili possibly out for the start of the postseason (according to USA TODAY Sports), you have to consider the idea that the Spurs might be knocked out early.

    Then again, this team is questioned year after year, yet it consistently proves itself as one of the powerhouses in a tough Western Conference.

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