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Atlanta Hawks: 55 Percent Chance
If you've come this far, you know the Hawks are headed in the wrong direction. Losers of six in a row and showing few signs of correcting course, Mike Budenholzer's boys are clinging to the final playoff spot in the East by the slimmest of margins.
John Hollinger's playoff odds (via ESPN) give the Hawks an 88.8 percent chance to make the postseason, but it's hard to view them as much more than a 50-50 proposition. Between the losing streak, Cleveland's relative proximity and the Knicks right on their heels, Atlanta looks eminently beatable.
Following a 101-97 loss to the Washington Wizards on March 29, Budenholzer told reporters: "I think every game our group has shown flashes and been good. When we play with really good energy and we compete, you can see where we can have the results we're looking for."
OK, sure. "Flashes" of solid play are great, but a sustained run to close the season will be necessary to avoid a disastrous result.
Dallas Mavericks: 70 Percent Chance
There are three teams battling for two playoff spots at the bottom of the absurdly competitive Western Conference. Right now, the Dallas Mavericks are on the outside looking in, but Hollinger's odds give them a 67.9 percent chance of making the dance.
Dallas is on the wrong end of a tiebreaker with the Phoenix Suns, and the Mavs' 22nd-ranked defensive rating (per NBA.com) doesn't bode well for postseason success even if they make it. Toss in a closing stretch that features the Golden State Warriors, Clippers, Spurs, Suns and Memphis Grizzlies, and it's hard to see how Dallas manages to survive with much better than a .500 record over the next couple of weeks.
But the Mavs' offense is fantastic, and Dirk Nowitzki knows what it takes to win when it counts. They've got a shot.
Phoenix Suns: 75 Percent Chance
The Suns have nothing to lose, which arguably makes them more dangerous than either of the other two teams they're fighting to secure a playoff spot. Nobody expected anything from this bunch, and the Suns have basically played with house money all season.
A free-wheeling offense led by Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe makes Phoenix a threat to beat absolutely anyone it faces. With nine games left and six potential playoff opponents on the slate, you'd think the Suns might fizzle out against tough competition.
But Phoenix has won six straight. Rule these Suns out at your own risk.
Memphis Grizzlies: 80 Percent Chance
The impartial standings don't give the Grizzlies much of an edge on the Mavs or Suns. In fact, Memphis is a half-game behind Phoenix and mere percentage points ahead of the Mavericks right now. Rest assured that as the season winds down, the Grizzlies will jostle with both of those clubs for position.
Standings don't tell the whole story, though.
Memphis has been one of the NBA's best teams since the All-Star break, posting a net rating of plus-5.6 points that ranks sixth in the league, per NBA.com.
Yes, the Grizzlies will finish with six of their final 10 games on the road. And yes, they'll square off against the Portland Trail Blazers, Spurs, Heat, Suns and Mavs. But they'll also feast on the Nuggets twice, the Wolves once and enjoy cupcake games against the Sixers and Lakers.
Memphis has more recent playoff success than either the Suns or Mavs (who both missed out last year) and has been playing just like the team that made it to the Western Conference Finals in 2013.
If forced to pick one team among the three vying for the seventh and eighth seeds out West, the Grizzlies seem like the safest bet. But with three squads so tightly grouped, it's hard to give them a significant edge.