NBA Playoff Picture 2021: Updated Bracket, Standings and Seed Predictions

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistMay 3, 2021

NBA Playoff Picture 2021: Updated Bracket, Standings and Seed Predictions

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    The 2020-21 NBA regular season is down to its final two weeks.

    Do you know where your favorite squad stands in the updated standings?

    It's time to start scoreboard watching and, if needed, tiebreaker deciphering. Only 11 teams know their fates so far; six are officially into the big dance while five others have been eliminated. The other 19 all have chances—even if only mathematical in a few cases—to still secure a spot at the postseason table.

    That makes this the perfect time to refresh the latest standings and playoff bracket before predicting how the final postseason field will shake out.

Updated 2021 NBA Playoff Bracket

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    Eastern Conference

    1. x-Philadelphia 76ers vs. Play-in Tournament Runner-Up

    2. x-Brooklyn Nets vs. Play-in Tournament Winner

    3. y-Milwaukee Bucks vs. 6. Miami Heat

    4. New York Knicks vs. 5. Atlanta Hawks

    Play-in Tournament Field: 7. Boston Celtics, 8. Charlotte Hornets, 9. Indiana Pacers, 10. Washington Wizards

                      

    Western Conference

    1. x-Phoenix Suns vs. Play-in Tournament Runner-Up

    2 x-Utah Jazz vs. Play-in Tournament Winner

    3. Denver Nuggets vs. 6. Los Angeles Lakers

    4. x-Los Angeles Clippers vs. 5. Dallas Mavericks

    Play-in Tournament Field: 7. Portland Trail Blazers, 8. Memphis Grizzlies, 9. Golden State Warriors, 10. San Antonio Spurs

    *x-clinched playoff berth; y-clinched division

Latest NBA Standings

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    Matt Slocum/Associated Press

    Eastern Conference

    1. x-Philadelphia 76ers: 43-21

    2. x-Brooklyn Nets: 43-22

    3. y-Milwaukee Bucks: 40-24

    4. New York Knicks: 36-28

    5. Atlanta Hawks: 35-30

    6. Miami Heat: 35-30

    7. Boston Celtics: 34-31

    8. Charlotte Hornets 31-33

    9. Indiana Pacers: 30-33

    10. Washington Wizards: 29-35

    11. Toronto Raptors: 27-38

    12. Chicago Bulls: 26-28

    13. Cleveland Cavaliers: 21-43

    14. e-Orlando Magic: 20-44

    15. e-Detroit Pistons 19-45

                     

    Western Conference

    1. x-Phoenix Suns: 46-18

    2. x-Utah Jazz: 46-18

    3. Denver Nuggets: 43-21

    4. x-Los Angeles Clippers 43-22

    5. Dallas Mavericks: 36-28

    6. Los Angeles Lakers: 36-28

    7. Portland Trail Blazers: 36-28

    8. Memphis Grizzlies: 32-31

    9. Golden State Warriors: 32-32

    10. San Antonio Spurs: 31-32

    11. New Orleans Pelicans: 29-35

    12. Sacramento Kings: 27-37

    13. e-Oklahoma City Thunder: 21-44

    14. e-Minnesota Timberwolves 20-45

    15. e-Houston Rockets: 16-49

    *x-clinched playoff berth; y-clinched division; e-eliminated from playoff

NBA Playoff Seeding Predictions

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    Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

    The first step in this process would be trimming the playoff field down to the final 20 teams, but that has essentially happened already. It might take a minor miracle for a club outside of the current play-in tournament to secure a spot over the next two weeks.

    The Raptors presumably have the best shot and feel like the kind of team that shouldn't be counted out until the final whistle blows. But they're chasing the red-hot Wizards (8-2 over their last 10) for the 10th seed and have too much ground to make up to catch the ninth-seeded Pacers (4.0 games).

    Staying in the East, the Sixers seem likeliest to get the No. 1 seed. They're in the driver's seat now and close with the league's softest schedule, per Tankathon.com. Since the Bucks have Giannis Antetokounmpo back, and the Nets could be waiting a while still for James Harden, let's slot Milwaukee at No. 2 and Brooklyn at No. 3.

    New York, which is playing as well as anyone, has a decent cushion to help hold the No. 4 spot, and that's what our crystal ball sees taking place. As long as Jaylen Brown avoided serious injury after a late collision with Jayson Tatum on Sunday, we'll give Boston the No. 5 seed for having the league's second-easiest remaining schedule and hosting an upcoming critical two-game slate with Miami.

    Finally, we have the Heat finishing the sixth, the Hawks landing seventh and the Hornets, Wizards and Pacers slotting in at eighth, ninth and 10th, respectively.

    Out West, we have Phoenix just edging out Utah for first. While the Jazz have an easier remaining schedule, they also have a glaring void at point guard with Mike Conley on the shelf (hamstring). That's enough for Chris Paul, Devin Booker and Co. to grab pole position.

    For as impressive as the Nuggets have fared without Jamal Murray (12-3 so far), his absence, coupled with the return of Kawhi Leonard, should give the Clippers the edge for No. 3, which leaves Denver sliding to No. 4. The Mavs have by far the easiest remaining schedule in the three-team race for No. 5, so we'll put Dallas there, the Lakers at No. 6 and Portland at No. 7.

    The Grizzlies have wobbled a bit since getting Jaren Jackson Jr. back (1-4 with him), but they have the depth and favorable schedule to hold on to No. 8. Finally, we'll lock in Golden State at No. 9 and San Antonio at No. 10, because the Warriors have Stephen Curry and the Spurs don't. Sometimes, it's just that simple.

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