The NBA restart in Orlando kicked off on Thursday night, and with three days of action now in the rear view, the picture for the playoff proper is starting to take shape.
While there is still time for teams to teams so secure a postseason spot or jockey for position at the top—though the lack of a home-court advantage makes that less important—some teams are already two games into the eight-game seeding schedule.
Here's a look at the latest standings and some of the most intriguing scenarios as the round of 16 draws closer.
2020 NBA Standings
1. Milwaukee Bucks 54-12
2. Toronto Raptors 47-16
3. Boston Celtics 43-22
4. Miami Heat 42-24
5. Indiana Pacers 40-26
6. Philadelphia 76ers 39-27
7. Orlando Magic 31-35
8. Brooklyn Nets 30-35
9. Washington Wizards 24-41
10. Charlotte Hornets 23-42
11. Chicago Bulls 22-43
12. New York Knicks 21-45
13 Detroit Pistons 20-46
14. Atlanta Hawks 20-47
15. Cleveland Cavaliers 19-46
1. Los Angeles Lakers 50-15
2. Los Angeles Clippers 45-21
3. Denver Nuggets 43-23
4. Utah Jazz 42-24
5. Oklahoma City Thunder 41-24
6. Houston Rockets 41-24
7. Dallas Mavericks 40-28
8. Memphis Grizzlies 32-34
9. Portland Trail Blazers 30-37
10. San Antonio Spurs 28-36
11. Sacramento Kings 28-37
12. New Orleans Pelicans 28-38
13. Phoenix Suns 27-39
14. Minnesota Timberwolves 19-45
15. Golden State Warriors 15-50
Lakers a Likely No. 1 Seed
The Los Angeles Lakers have a sizeable lead in over the L.A. Clippers in the Western Conference and took Thursday night's head-to-head contest. With six games left to play, they can largely coast to the postseason and still own the No. 1 seed.
However, this doesn't mean that these next few games aren't important. While there's little question about the core of LeBron James and Anthony Davis, the Lakers are still analyzing their depth after losing Avery Bradly and Rajon Rondo for the remainder of the season.
On Saturday, the Lakers fell flat against the Toronto Raptors during a lopsided 107-92 loss. However, the team's depth largely held up—reserves were responsible for 50 of L.A.'s 92 points. Kyle Kuzma led the bench scoring with 16 points, while Alex Caruso and Dion Waiters chipped in 11 and 12 points, respectively.
Expect coach Frank Vogel to use the remaining six games to further fine tune the depth behind James and Davis and to figure out just what sort of squad the new-look Lakers can be. Barring a total collapse, Los Angeles should also claim conference bragging rights along the way.
Don't Discount the Raptors
While the Lakers did seem to use Saturday's contest as a tune-up exercise, it should take nothing away from Toronto. Though Kawhi Leonard is long gone, the defending champion Raptors are still a force to behold.
Defensively, the Raptors had their way with the Lakers on Saturday, and they're going to be a problem in the postseason. They held Davis to just 14 points and limited Los Angeles to a paltry 35.4 percent shooting from the field.
If Toronto can consistently get offensive contributions like the one it got Kyle Lowry on Saturday, it will be a legitimate title contender.
Lowry racked up 33 points, just one point shy of what James and Davis produced combined.
"He was vintage Kyle tonight," coach Nick Nurse said, per the San Francisco Chronicle. "He was scoring and flying around and taking charges and competing and getting us some critical buckets. He was great.
With a 3.5-game lead for the No. 2 seed in the East, the Raptors could very well be on a collision course with the Milwaukee Bucks for a shot at the Finals
Pelicans Are Long Shots for the Playoffs
Though the NBA would love nothing more than to get rookie phenom Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans into the playoffs, this team is all but done for the year.
New Orleans lost a close game to the Utah Jazz on Thursday but was absolutely dominated by the Clippers on Saturday. The Clippers won handily 126-103.
The Pelicans, led by youngsters Williamson, Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram, have a bright future ahead. However, their time is not now. Despite having arguably the easiest schedule in the restart, New Orleans now finds itself four games out of eighth place with six games left to play.
There is still hope, of course.
"We knew these two games were our toughest two games," one team source said, per The Athletic's Joe Vardon. “Bad showing. Move on."
Unfortunately, the Pelicans aren't in a position where they can afford to simply write off a bad performance and still hope to be playoff-bound. They may now have to win out to have a shot at the playoffs.