NBA Playoff Standings 2021: Updated Team Records, Seedings and More

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistApril 27, 2021

NBA Playoff Standings 2021: Updated Team Records, Seedings and More

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    Adam Hunger/Associated Press

    The 2020-21 NBA season has been something of a slog with a condensed schedule because of the COVID-19 pandemic and plenty of marquee injuries, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel that is less than one month away.

    The playoffs begin on May 22 following the play-in tournament for the final seeds that runs from May 18-21.

    This postseason figures to be something closer to normal, with home-court advantage for the better seeds after the Los Angeles Lakers won last year's title inside the Walt Disney World Resort bubble.

    Here is a look at the updated playoff picture following Monday's results. The Nos. 7-10 seeds in each conference will participate in the play-in tournament.

Eastern Conference

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    Kathy Willens/Associated Press

    1. Brooklyn Nets, 41-20

    2. Philadelphia 76ers, 40-21

    3. Milwaukee Bucks, 37-23

    4. New York Knicks, 34-28

    5. Atlanta Hawks, 34-28

    6. Boston Celtics, 32-29

    7. Miami Heat, 32-30

    8. Charlotte Hornets, 30-30

    9. Indiana Pacers, 29-31

    10. Washington Wizards, 27-34

    11. Chicago Bulls, 26-35 (one game back)

    12. Toronto Raptors, 26-35 (one game back)

Western Conference

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    Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

    1. Utah Jazz, 44-17

    2. Phoenix Suns, 43-18

    3. Los Angeles Clippers, 43-20

    4. Denver Nuggets, 40-21

    5. Los Angeles Lakers, 36-25

    6. Dallas Mavericks, 33-27

    7. Portland Trail Blazers, 32-28

    8. Memphis Grizzlies, 31-29

    9. San Antonio Spurs, 31-29

    10. Golden State Warriors, 31-30

    11. New Orleans Pelicans, 27-34 (four games back)

Key Storyline for Stretch Run: Lakers' Seed

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    Ron Jenkins/Associated Press

    It's not often a team battling for the Nos. 5 or 6 seeds in the Western Conference heading into the season's final month is on the presumptive shortlist of realistic title contenders, but that is the case for the Los Angeles Lakers this season.

    After all, the version of the Purple and Gold that has taken the floor for much of the 2020-21 campaign is not the one that will compete with the league's best teams in the playoffs.

    LeBron James hasn't played since March 20 because of a high ankle sprain, while Anthony Davis was sidelined from Feb. 14 until Thursday's game against the Dallas Mavericks because of calf and Achilles concerns.

    The result has been plenty of inconsistency with role players thrown into the spotlight, but there is no question the Lakers can still win the title once they are back at full strength. After all, the James and Davis combination just led them to the championship a season ago and proved they could do so without home-court advantage at the Walt Disney World Resort.

    Still, how the team performs down the stretch could go a long way toward determining its ultimate fate.

    It is 2.5 games ahead of a Dallas team that just won back-to-back contests against Los Angeles on Thursday and Saturday. If the Mavericks ultimately catch and pass the Lakers, that could mean a daunting first-round matchup for the defending champions who could still be working their way back into form given their injury issues.

    The No. 5 seed is currently matched up with the fourth-seeded Denver Nuggets without Jamal Murray, which would likely be an easier matchup than the potential one against the third-seeded Los Angeles Clippers or Phoenix Suns waiting for the No. 6 seed.

    The Lakers handled the Nuggets in five games in last season's Western Conference Finals, and that was with Murray on the floor. If James and Davis are healthy, logic suggests they could defeat Denver again all while potentially not having to worry about Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers until the Western Conference Finals if the Utah Jazz earn the No. 1 seed.

    Games like Monday's win against the Orlando Magic may not seem particularly consequential for the defending champions, but the difference between the Nos. 5 and 6 seeds might be come playoff time.