NBA Playoff Picture 2018: Latest Bracket Scenarios for Final Day of Season

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistApril 11, 2018

New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis, left, shoots as Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, April 9, 2018, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

The number of playoff bracket scenarios left ahead of Wednesday's NBA games would send the minds of even the most talented mathematicians spinning.

Entering the final day of the regular season, five of the 16 playoff positions are locked down, with four of them being the two teams at the top of each conference.

Toronto and Boston are the top seeds in the Eastern Conference, while Indiana awaits an opponent as the No. 5 seed.

Houston and Golden State are first and second in the Western Conference, respectively, where seven teams are jockeying for six positions, with three head-to-head matchups making the math a bit easier Wednesday.

Below is a look at all of the bracket scenarios for each conference ahead of the final day of the regular season.

      

Eastern Conference

Directly beneath the Raptors and Celtics is a battle for third place between the Philadelphia 76ers and Cleveland Cavaliers.

Although the Sixers gained the upper hand in the head-to-head battle Friday with a thrilling home victory, they are only one game in front of the Cavs entering Wednesday's action.

Philadelphia comes into the showdown at Wells Fargo Center with the Milwaukee Bucks on a 15-game winning streak, but the Bucks have plenty of motivation to win, as they sit in a three-way battle at the bottom of the East playoff hunt with Miami and Washington.

If the Sixers beat the Bucks, they own the No. 3 seed, but a loss combined with a Cleveland win over New York drops them to the No. 4 seed since Cleveland's Central Division championship would push them ahead of Philadelphia.

PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 6: Ben Simmons #25 of the Philadelphia 76ers and LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers look on during foul shots at the Wells Fargo Center on April 6, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowle
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

If the Sixers and Cavs both lose on Wednesday, the Sixers remain in third position and the Cavs stay in fourth. No matter which team lands in fourth, it plays the Pacers in the first round.

Following Washington's win over Boston on Tuesday, the Bucks, Heat and Wizards are separated by one game for the No. 6 seed.

While the Bucks visit the Sixers, Miami hosts Toronto and Washington visits Orlando. Given the different stature of each opponent, the race for sixth in the East could go a variety of ways.

If all three teams win, the Bucks remain in sixth with the Heat and Wizards behind them in that order. However, if the Bucks lose and the other two teams win, they would drop to eighth.

Milwaukee's official Twitter account gave us a look at all the scenarios in play:

Whichever team lands in seventh at night's end faces a first-round clash with the No. 2 Celtics, while the eighth seed earns a series with the top-seeded Raptors.

    

Western Conference

Utah's win over Golden State on Tuesday set the stage for a dramatic finish in the West on Wednesday, as six of the teams placed third through ninth play each other.

The No. 3 seed will go to the winner of the Jazz's game against Portland since both teams occupy third and fourth in the West entering the final day of regular-season action.

However, the loser of the clash at Moda Center is not guaranteed the fourth seed if results elsewhere fall a certain way.

Portland's official Twitter account laid out all of the playoff scenarios in the West:

Portland can finish no lower than fifth, and both of the scenarios in which that could happen involve Memphis upsetting Oklahoma City, combined with a San Antonio win over New Orleans.

New Orleans is the most likely No. 5 seed if it knocks off the Spurs at Smoothie King Center. The only way the Pelicans don't finish fifth with a victory is if Oklahoma City and Portland both win, as the Thunder would vault into the fourth seed.

Even with a loss, the Spurs shouldn't drop further than the No. 7 seed, but there is a scenario in which Denver and Oklahoma City win that could relegate them to the No. 8 seed.

Oklahoma City appears to have the most to gain Wednesday, as it plays Memphis while the other teams around it square off.

Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

The Thunder are the biggest Portland fans, as they jump into the No. 4 seed if they beat the Grizzlies and the Blazers win. However, if Oklahoma City can't take care of business against Memphis, it is going to be the No. 8 seed.

The winner of the Minnesota-Denver clash at Target Center secures the final playoff spot in the West, but either team isn't guaranteed to finish eighth.

If Denver beats the Timberwolves, it can be the No. 6 or No. 7 seed, while a Minnesota win puts it anywhere from sixth to eighth.

Both teams enter Wednesday as Spurs fans, as the chances increase to finish sixth if San Antonio defeats New Orleans.

The team that lands in seventh takes on No. 2 Golden State, while the eighth seed has the unfortunate pleasure of facing No. 1 Houston.

      

Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

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