NBA Playoff Picture 2019: Latest East, West Standings and Bracket Scenarios

Nate Loop@Nate_LoopFeatured ColumnistMarch 21, 2019

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MARCH 20: Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers reacts in front of Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics after a timeout in the fourth quarter at the Wells Fargo Center on March 20, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The 76ers defeated the Celtics 118-115. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

The 2018-19 NBA season is nearly through, with each team having about 10-12 games remaining on the docket.

While one can be fairly certain about which teams are going to make the playoffs—the West is all but a wrap as far as the top eight go, and the bubble teams in the East are fading fast—it's nearly impossible to tell which order those postseason-bound teams will end up in. 

Take the Oklahoma City Thunder, for example. They were the fifth seed on Tuesday morning, but by Wednesday night, they had fallen to the eighth seed, though their record is identical to the two teams immediately above them. 

Over in the East, the top five teams have separated themselves, but there's still some jockeying for position within that group, while the next three seeds are trying desperately to cling to contention.

Here's a look at the latest standings.


Western Conference Standings

1. *Golden State Warriors (48-22)

2. *Denver Nuggets (47-22)

3. Houston Rockets (45-27)

4. Portland Trail Blazers (44-27)

5. Utah Jazz (42-29)

6. San Antonio Spurs (42-30)

7. Los Angeles Clippers (42-30)

8. Oklahoma City Thunder (42-30)


9. Sacramento Kings (34-36)

10. Minnesota Timberwolves (32-39)

11. Los Angeles Lakers (31-40)

12. New Orleans Pelicans (31-43)

13. Memphis Grizzlies (28-43)

14. Dallas Mavericks (29-42)

15. Phoenix Suns (17-55)


Eastern Conference Standings

1. *Milwaukee Bucks (53-19)

2. *Toronto Raptors (51-21)

3. *Philadelphia 76ers (47-25)

4. Indiana Pacers (44-28)

5. Boston Celtics (43-29)

6. Detroit Piston (36-34)

7. Brooklyn Nets (37-36)

8. Miami Heat (35-36)


9. Orlando Magic (34-38)

10. Charlotte Hornets (31-39)

11. Washington Wizards (30-42)

12. Atlanta Hawks (24-48)

13. Chicago Bulls (21-52)

14. Cleveland Cavaliers (19-53)

15. New York Knicks (14-58)

Note: * = clinched a playoff spot


The 76ers Are Going to Be Fun No Matter Who They Play

Just a few days ago, the Philadelphia 76ers and the Milwaukee Bucks set the basketball world ablaze thanks to the fiery displays of Ben Simmons and Giannis Antetokounmpo.

The two men took turns dunking on one another and talking trash in a thrilling contest that the Sixers won 130-125. The dunks were like two dings of a dinner bell and had NBA fans salivating for a potential Eastern Conference finals matchup between the two teams.

However, that potential feast of a series is a long way off, if it ever comes together. For more immediate Philadelphia fun, there's still an outside chance the Sixers could play the Boston Celtics in the first round, and that's looking like a must-see series after the Sixers' 118-115 comeback win on Wednesday night. 

Joel Embiid was the main attraction this time around, with 37 points, 22 rebounds and four assists. He was emphatic about his abilities after the game: 

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Joel Embiid making it known. https://t.co/k1VEnOpCo3

Boston got a standout performance in their own right, with Kyrie Irving putting up 39 points and nine boards.

According to ESPN Stats & Info, this isn't the first time the two have gotten into a scoring duel:

ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

For the second time this season, both Joel Embiid and Kyrie Irving scored 30+ points against each other. In the history of the 76ers-Celtics rivalry, only two other pairs have had multiple 30-point duels in a single season: Iverson/Pierce (2005-06) Cunningham/Havlicek (1971-72) https://t.co/QjXEamrrvV

Did we mention this game also saw the Celtics' Marcus Smart get the boot for pushing Embiid to the floor?

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Marcus Smart got ejected for shoving Embiid to the ground 😳 https://t.co/jEIAzgN2eQ

If these two teams are to meet in the first round, the Sixers would have to fall to fourth or fifth, highly unlikely considering they are on a six-game win streak. Right now, they are due to meet the Detroit Pistons in the first round, a team that's six games back of the Celtics and in little danger of catching them. So it's a slim chance, but not something to bet on. A conference finals matchup is far more likely

But hey, even if these two teams never meet in the postseason, watching the unpredictable Embiid is always a pleasure, and he has Simmons, J.J. Reddick, Tobias Harris and Jimmy Butler with him in the starting lineup. Bring on Boston, Detroit, Brooklyn, Milwaukee or whomever. Let's see what the culmination of "The Process" has to offer. 

Nuggets, Warriors In a Fight for First

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MARCH 19: Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors looks on during the game against the Minnesota Timberwolves on March 19, 2019 at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that,
Jordan Johnson/Getty Images

The Golden State Warriors were supposed to stand astride the NBA like a California colossus, crushing everyone beneath their feet. Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, DeMarcus Cousins certainly seems like a world-beating lineup (and that may still come to pass), but as of right now, the anointed ones have the third-best record in the NBA and might end up as the second-best team in the conference if the Denver Nuggets stay hot to close out the season. 

Led by doughy, do-it-all center Nikola Jokic, the Nuggets have coalesced into one of the league's best teams, just one year removed from missing the playoffs entirely. But this year has seen the genius Jokic (20.3 points, 10.7 rebounds, 7.3 assists) turn into the league's best fulcrum, his big shoulders holding everything in balance on a team that has seven players averaging double-digits in points. 

From a wily, aging Paul Millsap to a young, ascendant Jamal Murray, this Nuggets team has a deep well of talent to draw from. The Nuggets have won four in a row since losing to the Warriors on March 8, putting them on a collision course for another big clash with the league leaders on April 2. Though they have one lone superstar talent compared to the Warrior's four, the Nuggets are in position to take the Western Conference outright. 

Slipping to second would be embarrassing for a Warriors team with an embarrassment of riches on its roster. Recent stumbles against the lowly Phoenix Suns and San Antonio Spurs have shown Golden State is plenty vulnerable.

Steph Curry has been streaky for weeks now, with his post All-Star break shooting numbers (42.0% field goals, 38.3% from three) considerably lower than what he was putting up before, per ESPN.com. Cousins hasn't quite yet found the right fit, and there's often more chatter about what Durant might do in the offseason than the postseason.

But with a squad this talented, the regular season could still end up being all prelude to a playoff gauntlet run that seemed inevitable when the Warriors signed Cousins in the offseason. If this team buckles down and focuses for the playoffs, there's still nobody that can match their pure skill and postseason experience.