With just two games remaining in the NBA season for most teams, the playoff picture is beginning to come to fruition.
Several teams have already secured their spots in the postseason, while others are still jockeying for position—some within the playoff ranks, and some on the outside looking in.
The final games of the NBA season will certainly be action-packed and full of drama, which will provide a fitting end to what has been an exciting year.
Let's take a look at the current league standings and predict not only which teams are poised to enter the postseason but also each of their seedings and first-round opponents.
Current NBA Standings
|New York||35||45||0.438||12.0||24-26||8-6||18-22||17-23||6-4||W 2|
|Oklahoma City||58||22||0.725||0.0||36-15||11-5||33-7||25-15||6-4||L 1|
|L.A. Clippers||56||24||0.700||0.0||35-15||12-4||33-7||23-17||7-3||W 1|
|Golden State||49||31||0.613||7.0||29-21||11-5||26-14||23-17||5-5||L 1|
|L.A. Lakers||25||55||0.313||31.0||13-37||6-10||14-27||11-28||1-9||L 7|
|San Antonio||62||18||0.775||0.0||38-12||12-3||32-8||30-10||8-2||W 2|
|New Orleans||32||48||0.400||30.0||13-37||3-12||20-19||12-29||2-8||L 8|
Standings courtesy of NBA.com.
Playoff Seeding Predictions
|San Antonio Spurs||1||Mavericks|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||2||Grizzlies|
|Los Angeles Clippers||3||Warriors|
|Golden State Warriors||6||Clippers|
Sean O'Donnell's Predictions
Here's how it's all going down.
The Indiana Pacers will earn the top seed in the East.
On Monday, Joseph Goodman of the Miami Herald tweeted that both LeBron James and Chris Bosh would not be playing against the Washington Wizards:
LeBron and Bosh out against the Wizards.— Joseph Goodman (@JoeGoodmanJr) April 14, 2014
This move practically concedes the No. 1 spot for the Heat but assures them the No. 2 seed.
Toronto and Chicago are in a tight race for the third seed; however, the Raptors own the tie-breaker due to leading the Atlantic Division and face the Bucks and Knicks in their last two games. They'll remain the third seed, and Chicago will come in at No. 4.
Brooklyn has been playing some fantastic basketball lately. The Nets' surge wasn't enough to catch the Bulls but will assure them the fifth seed.
Washington and Charlotte are neck and neck for the sixth seed. The Wizards have the upper hand here due to a remaining schedule that includes a James-and-Bosh-less Heat and the struggling Celtics.
LeBron James (rest) & Chris Bosh (rest) have both been ruled out of tonight’s #HEATgame vs the Wizards.— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) April 14, 2014
With the Wizards securing the sixth seed, that leaves Charlotte taking No. 7 and Atlanta taking No. 8.
The top of the West is rather easy.
San Antonio has already clinched the top seed in the conference. Despite having two road games remaining, the Thunder will hold on to the second seed by defeating the Pelicans and Pistons.
That puts the Clippers in at No. 3 due to the team's current three-game lead over Houston.
The Rockets currently have the edge on Portland, and they'll keep it after defeating the Pelicans in their final game of the season.
Houston's acquisition of the fourth seed ensures Portland the fifth seed.
The Warriors shouldn't have trouble finishing out their season with a couple wins. They face the Timberwolves at home and the floundering Nuggets on the road. Golden State gets in as the No. 6 seed.
Memphis remains one game behind Dallas in the win column. Although, Memphis travels to face the Suns on Monday night, and then Dallas must travel to square off against the suddenly surging Grizzlies to end its season.
The Grizzlies can clinch the final playoff spot in the West with a win over the Suns tonight. Memphis is 3-0 against Phoenix this season.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 14, 2014
The Grizzlies get the two-game sweep here and move up into the seventh seed.
Dallas falls back into the eighth seed after falling to Memphis, which leaves Phoenix on the outside looking in.
The shift in standings here will have a huge impact on the overall playoff picture.
With the big switch of Memphis taking the No. 7 seed and Dallas taking the eighth, they now swap first-round opponents.
The Mavericks will take on the daunting task of facing the Spurs—a team that no one wants to see right now. San Antonio looks virtually unbeatable, and Dallas will take an early exit from the playoffs.
Memphis has a fighting chance against the Thunder. Oklahoma City's offense is one of the best in the league; however, its porous defense allows for shootouts. The Grizzlies have been putting up some big points lately, and could make this series very interesting.
Looking for a Round 1 upset? Look no further than the No. 4 Bulls against the No. 5 Nets. There's not one team that wants to face surging Brooklyn right now. The Nets are on an absolute tear and will be advancing to Round 2.
Which team has a decent path to the championship?
It sounds like an easy answer, and it is. The Spurs, despite being in the more competitive Western Conference, will benefit from the talented teams below them. Rest assured, many of the West's series will boil down to the bitter end, leaving plenty of teams gasping for breath. San Antonio will be in prime position to take advantage of winded opponents.
Which team has the toughest path?
That would be the Miami Heat. Dwyane Wade is seemingly always questionable, and when this team's not at full strength, it is beatable. There are plenty of surging teams in the East right now that could give Miami a run for its money in the postseason.
As the playoff picture continues to unfold, the only certainty involving the NBA playoffs is that nothing is certain at all.
Hang on to your hats.