NBA Playoff Standings 2022: Latest Records, Postseason Scenarios and Predictions
The Miami Heat clinched the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference on Thursday. But if they're going to make it back to the NBA Finals for the second time in three seasons, they're going to have to go through a difficult path, as teams such as the Milwaukee Bucks, Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers and even the Brooklyn Nets could pose challenges.
The Heat will soon begin what they hope will be a deep postseason run, as the NBA regular season has only two days remaining. Then, the play-in tournament will take place from Tuesday through Friday, before the playoffs will get underway exactly one week from now.
Although the regular season isn't over, the playoff and play-in tourney brackets are nearly locked in. It's already known which six teams from each conference will go straight to the first round and which four from each conference will head to the play-in tournament. But there are still some seeding battles taking place this weekend.
Here's a look at the current NBA standings, followed by the playoff picture for each conference and predictions for the upcoming play-in tournament.
1. z-Miami Heat: 53-28
2. y-Milwaukee Bucks: 51-30
3. x-Boston Celtics: 50-31
4. x-Philadelphia 76ers: 49-31
5. x-Toronto Raptors: 48-33
6. x-Chicago Bulls: 45-36
7. p-Brooklyn Nets: 43-38
8. p-Cleveland Cavaliers: 43-38
9. p-Atlanta Hawks: 42-39
10. p-Charlotte Hornets: 42-39
11. e-New York Knicks: 36-45
12. e-Washington Wizards: 35-46
13. e-Indiana Pacers: 25-55
14. e-Detroit Pistons: 23-58
15. e-Orlando Magic: 21-60
1. z-Phoenix Suns: 64-17
2. y-Memphis Grizzlies: 55-25
3. x-Golden State Warriors: 51-29
4. x-Dallas Mavericks: 51-30
5. x-Utah Jazz: 48-33
6. x-Denver Nuggets: 48-33
7. p-Minnesota Timberwolves: 46-35
8. p-Los Angeles Clippers: 40-40
9. p-New Orleans Pelicans: 36-44
10. p-San Antonio Spurs: 34-46
11. e-Los Angeles Lakers: 32-49
12. e-Sacramento Kings: 29-51
13. e-Portland Trail Blazers: 27-54
14. e-Oklahoma City Thunder: 24-57
15. e-Houston Rockets: 20-61
x-clinched playoff berth
p-clinched play-in berth
e-eliminated from playoff contention
Eastern Conference Picture
No. 1 Miami Heat vs. No. 8 seed
No. 2 Milwaukee Bucks vs. No. 7 seed
No. 3 Boston Celtics vs. No. 6 Chicago Bulls
No. 4 Philadelphia 76ers vs. No. 5 Toronto Raptors
No. 7 Brooklyn Nets vs. No. 8 Cleveland Cavaliers
No. 9 Atlanta Hawks vs. No. 10 Charlotte Hornets
Because the Nets, Cavaliers, Hawks and Hornets are all separated by only one game, these teams aren't locked into their seeds for the play-in tournament yet. But there's a good chance the Nets will be playing the Cavaliers and the Hawks will face the Hornets on the first day of the tourney on Tuesday.
Brooklyn appears to be the best team in this field, which shouldn't come as a surprise, considering Kevin Durant is now healthy and Kyrie Irving is again allowed to play home games. The Nets may be rounding into form, as they've won three straight games, including a Friday night matchup against the Cavaliers.
When Brooklyn and Cleveland face off again on Tuesday, expect the same result. The Cavs are a solid team, but the Nets will be too tough to stop with both Durant and Irving on the court. Brooklyn will win to secure the No. 7 seed and will go on to face Milwaukee in a rematch of last year's second-round series that the Bucks won in seven games.
The Cavaliers will then face the winner of the No. 9 vs. No. 10 game, which will likely be the Hawks. Charlotte is a good team with a bright future, but Trae Young will power Atlanta to victory in that matchup.
It won't matter who wins the Hawks-Hornets contest, though, because the Cavs will win the final game of the play-in tournament and secure the No. 8 seed and a first-round matchup vs. the Heat. Cleveland has stumbled down the stretch, having lost eight of its last 10 games, but it has time to get back on track.
With Darius Garland continuing to play at a high level, he'll go off in a big way to keep the Cavaliers' season alive and push them through to the opening round of the playoffs.
Western Conference Picture
No. 1 Phoenix Suns vs. No. 8 seed
No. 2 Memphis Grizzlies vs. No. 7 seed
No. 3 Golden State Warriors vs. No. 6 Denver Nuggets
No. 4 Dallas Mavericks vs. No. 5 Utah Jazz
No. 7 Minnesota Timberwolves vs. No. 8 Los Angeles Clippers
No. 9 New Orleans Pelicans vs. No. 10 San Antonio Spurs
Unlike the East, the play-in tournament matchups for the West are locked in. The Timberwolves will be hosting the Clippers, while the Pelicans and Spurs will face off, although it's still possible San Antonio could move up to the No. 9 seed and get to host that matchup.
But like the East, there's a good chance that the top two teams in the play-in tournament will be the ones advancing to the first round of the playoffs. Things will go slightly differently, though.
That's because the Clippers will defeat the Timberwolves on the road to secure the No. 7 seed and a first-round matchup with the Grizzlies. The Clippers are getting healthy at the right time, as both Paul George and Norman Powell recently returned to their rotation.
The Clippers still may not have Kawhi Leonard—and they may not for most, if not all, of the postseason—but they're still a strong enough team to win a play-in game against the Timberwolves. And that's what they'll do.
Still, Minnesota will make it to the first round of the playoffs itself. After losing, it will likely then face New Orleans, which shouldn't have trouble taking down San Antonio. And then the Timberwolves won't have any trouble taking down the Pelicans.
So, don't expect any huge surprises in the play-in tournament, as the Clippers and Timberwolves should move on with ease.