NBA Playoffs 2019: Updated Standings and Predictions on Race for the 8th Seed

Steve Silverman@@profootballboyFeatured ColumnistMarch 25, 2019

The Spurs are once again on track to go to the playoffs, but this time as an eighth-place team.
The Spurs are once again on track to go to the playoffs, but this time as an eighth-place team.Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

NBA teams that are fighting for a spot in the playoffs have 10 games or less to make their case.

The season is down to just a few crucial games, and the race for the top of the heap appears to be decided in the East but remains a dogfight in the West.

The Milwaukee Bucks are 55-19, and they have a four-game lead over the Toronto Raptors. The Bucks will find themselves in a position to clinch the Eastern Conference barring a disaster.

It's a different story in the Western Conference where the two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors and the Denver Nuggets are battling for the top spot.

The Warriors are used to running out and building big leads so they have home-court advantage in the playoffs, but they have just a one-half game lead and first place is not likely to be decided until the final days of the season.

The biggest battle is for the final playoff spots in the Eastern Conference. The top four spots have been clinched by the Bucks, Raptors, Philadelphia 76ers and Indiana Pacers. The Boston Celtics, who have been a major disappointment this season, are in fifth place and are not in any danger of missing the playoffs.

However, the three teams in the sixth, seventh and eighth spots have more work to do. The Brooklyn Nets and Detroit Pistons are in sixth and seventh place, respectively. The Nets are two games over .500, while the Pistons are one game over that mark.

The eighth-place Miami Heat are 36-37 and lead the ninth-place Orlando Magic (35-38) by one game. The Charlotte Hornets (34-39) still have a chance as well.

The Washington Wizards have not been eliminated, but they are just hanging on by a thread.

It basically comes down to the Heat trying to hold off Orlando and Charlotte. If Detroit or Brooklyn goes into a slump, either one of those teams could have a problem, but they control their own fate and are inside the playoff structure.

The Warriors and the Nuggets clinched playoff spots earlier, and the Houston Rockets joined them Sunday with a 113-90 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans.

While the other Western Conference playoff spots have not been clinched, there is very little tension.

The fourth through eighth spots are owned by the Portland Trail Blazers, Los Angeles Clippers, Oklahoma City Thunder, Utah Jazz and San Antonio Spurs, The ninth-place Sacramento Kings have not been eliminated yet, but they are 6.5 games behind the Spurs.

Here's a look at the NBA standings, along with the current odds to win each conference (per VegasInsider).

           

Eastern Conference Standings

1. x-Milwaukee Bucks (55-19)

2. x-Toronto Raptors (51-23)

3. x-Philadelphia 76ers (47-26)

4. x-Indiana Pacers (45-29)

5. Boston Celtics (43-31)

6. Brooklyn Nets (38-36)

7. Detroit Piston (37-36)

8. Miami Heat (36-37)

9. Orlando Magic (35-38)

10. Charlotte Hornets (34-39)

11. Washington Wizards (30-44)

12. e-Atlanta Hawks (26-48)

13. e-Chicago Bulls (21-53)

14. e-Cleveland Cavaliers (19-55)

15. e-New York Knicks (14-60)

           

Western Conference Standings

1. x-Golden State Warriors (50-23)

2. x-Denver Nuggets (49-23)

3. Houston Rockets (47-27)

4. Portland Trail Blazers (45-27)

5. Los Angeles Clippers (44-30)

6. Oklahoma City Thunder (43-30)

7. Utah Jazz (43-30)

8. San Antonio Spurs (43-31)

9. Sacramento Kings (36-37)

10. e-Minnesota Timberwolves (33-40)

11. e-Los Angeles Lakers (32-41)

12. e-New Orleans Pelicans (31-44)

13. e-Memphis Grizzlies (29-44)

14. e-Dallas Mavericks (29-44)

15. e-Phoenix Suns (17-57)

Note: x = clinched a playoff spot, e = eliminated from playoff contention

           

Odds to win each conference

Eastern Conference

Milwaukee Bucks, 9-5
Toronto Raptors, 12-5
Boston Celtics, 11-4
Philadelphia 76ers, 9-2
Detroit Pistons, 75-1
Indiana Pacers, 75-1
Brooklyn Nets, 125-1
Miami Heat, 250-1
Charlotte Hornets, 1000-1
Orlando Magic 1000-1
Washington Wizards, 5000-1

          

Western Conference

Golden State Warriors, 2-7
Houston Rockets, 5-1
Denver Nuggets, 15-1
Oklahoma City Thunder, 15-1
Portland Trail Blazers, 40-1
Utah Jazz, 40-1
San Antonio Spurs, 60-1
Los Angeles Clippers, 200-1

          

Predictions

The Pistons and Nets are both 6-4 in their last 10 games, while the Heat is 7-3. The Magic is not going away, either, as Orlando is 6-4 in its last 10.

ESPN lists the Pistons as having a 94.1 percent chance of making the playoffs, per Basketball Power Index, while the Nets have a 91.5 percent chance. Miami has a 70 percent chance of holding down the final playoff position in the Eastern Conference, with the Magic having a 38.9 percent chance of stealing it away.

The Hornets have a fairly negligible chance at 5.9 percent.

Based on the BPI percentages, it's a fairly one-sided race between the Heat and the Magic. Five of Miami's final nine games are on the road, and five are against teams inside the playoff structure. The toughest of those matches is a road game at Toronto on April 7.

The Magic have eight games remaining, and six of them are on the road. Five of those are against teams inside the playoff structure.

The Magic and Heat meet Tuesday in Miami, and that game will set the tone for the remainder of the schedule.

Look for Miami to win at home and earn the final playoff spot.

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