NBA Playoff Picture 2022: Latest Standings, Play-in Predictions for Nets, More

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistApril 8, 2022

Brooklyn Nets' Kevin Durant (7) looks to pass during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Detroit Pistons Tuesday, March 29, 2022 in New York. The Nets won 130-123. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

Friday could be the deciding day in the Eastern Conference play-in round standings. 

The Brooklyn Nets play host to the Cleveland Cavaliers in a battle of the top two sides in the four-team play-in standings. 

Brooklyn has the advantage on paper since Cleveland will be without Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen.

The Nets can leapfrog the Cavs for the No. 7 seed with a win because of the head-to-head record over their opponents on Friday. 

The Atlanta Hawks and Charlotte Hornets might not have a say in the play-in standings on Friday night as they both head on the road to face teams that are higher than them in the East. 

The Western Conference play-in picture gained more clarity on Thursday night, when the New Orleans Pelicans defeated the Portland Trail Blazers, and the San Antonio Spurs fell to the Minnesota Timberwolves. 

Minnesota's quest to get out of the play-in round ended on Thursday. The Denver Nuggets secured the sixth and final automatic postseason spot in the West with a win over the Memphis Grizzlies. 

The Wolves are locked into a play-in round matchup with the Los Angeles Clippers, while the Pelicans and Spurs face each other in the No. 9-versus-No. 10 clash in the West.


Updated NBA Standings

Eastern Conference

1. Miami (52-28)

2. Milwaukee (50-30)

3. Boston (50-31)

4. Philadelphia (49-31)

5. Toronto (47-33)

6. Chicago (45-35) 


Play-In Standings

7. Cleveland (43-37)

8. Brooklyn (42-38)

9. Atlanta (42-38)

10. Charlotte (41-39) 


Charlotte was the only one of the four East play-in teams in action on Thursday, and it cruised to a victory over the Orlando Magic to gain a half-game on the Atlanta Hawks. 

The Hawks and Hornets' potential movement in the standings is dependent on what happens in Friday's clash between Brooklyn and Cleveland. 

Brooklyn produced back-to-back wins over the Houston Rockets and New York Knicks to inch within one game of the Cavs. 

The Nets enter Friday with a 2-1 record against Cleveland this season. A home win on Friday would give them the head-to-head tiebreaker for the No. 7 seed. 

A Cleveland road victory would clinch the No. 7 seed, which would be a welcome sight for a squad that struggled without its two best paint players. 

The Cavs lost four of their last five games to drop into their current position. Darius Garland and Co. must be at their best to deal with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

If not, the Cavs could be headed back to Brooklyn next week for the start of the play-in round. 

Brooklyn finishes the regular season at home against the Indiana Pacers. That is an assumed victory since the Pacers have been in full tank mode since the trade deadline. 

Cleveland ends the regular season on Sunday against the Milwaukee Bucks, who are in the mix for the No. 2 seed. 

The Cavs could face a full strength Bucks squad and that may result in a loss, which would benefit the ninth-seeded Hawks. 

Atlanta needs to close with wins over the Miami Heat and Houston and for Cleveland to drop one game to land the No. 8 seed. 

The Hawks will jump the Cavs if they finish on the same record because of their 3-1 edge in head-to-head contests. 

Charlotte needs to beat the Chicago Bulls on Friday and the Washington Wizards on Sunday to have a shot at moving up in the standings. 

The Hornets can only elevate themselves from the No. 10 seed if the Hawks lose out. 

Prediction: No. 7 Brooklyn, No. 8 Atlanta, No. 9 Cleveland, No. 10 Charlotte


Western Conference

1. Phoenix (63-17)

2. Memphis (55-25)

3. Golden State (51-29)

4. Dallas (50-30)

5. Utah (48-32)

6. Denver (48-33) 


Play-In Standings

7. Minnesota (46-35)

8. Los Angeles Clippers (40-40)

9. New Orleans (36-44)

10. San Antonio (34-46) 


The Western Conference play-in round matchups are set. 

The Minnesota Timberwolves locked into the No. 7 seed on Thursday due to the Denver Nuggets' win over the Memphis Grizzlies. 

Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Edwards and Co. will do battle with Paul George and the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday night for the No. 7 seed.

The Wolves-Clippers winner will take on the Memphis Grizzles in the first round of the postseason. 

Los Angeles beat Minnesota three times in the regular season. All of those clashes occurred in November. Minnesota defeated the Clippers on January 3, but George did not play in that contest. 

The loser of the No. 7-versus-No. 8 matchup will face the winner of Wednesday's clash between the New Orleans Pelicans and San Antonio Spurs for the No. 8 seed and the right to face the Phoenix Suns in the first round. 

New Orleans moved two games ahead of the Spurs with its win over Portland on Thursday. San Antonio fell to Minnesota. 

The Pelicans visit the Grizzlies on Saturday and then host the Golden State Warriors. San Antonio faces an equally tough schedule with the Warriors on Saturday and the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday. 

One loss by the Spurs locks the No. 9 and No. 10 seed into their current respective positions.

Prediction: No. 7 Minnesota, No. 8 LA Clippers, 9. New Orleans, 10. San Antonio