NBA Playoff Picture 2022: Latest Play-In Bracket, Seeding Scenarios for Last Day

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistApril 10, 2022

NBA Playoff Picture 2022: Latest Play-In Bracket, Seeding Scenarios for Last Day

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    Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

    Time is just about up for the 2021-22 NBA regular season. Only one day of action remains, and while there isn't a ton left to be settled, some postseason implications are still in play.

    The field has been set, as five teams in each conference have been eliminated. The fields for both the playoffs proper and the play-in tournament have also been set. The top six teams in each conference are waiting to see how things unfold during the play-in, which will kick off Tuesday.

    Teams that finish ranked No. 7 through No. 10 will contend for the final two postseason spots for each conference.

    The seventh- and eighth-place teams in each conference will play each other for the No. 7 seed. The ninth- and 10th-place teams will battle in an elimination game. The loser of the seven-eight Game will play the winner of the other contest for the No. 8 seed and final playoff spot.

    From there, traditional playoff seeding will apply, with the No. 1 seed facing the No. 8 seed and so forth.

    No teams can work into or fall out of the play-in tournament Sunday, but some significant shuffling can occur. In the East, for example, the Cleveland Cavaliers could fall from the No. 8 spot to the No. 9 or No. 10 spot, which would leave them in a win-or-go-home scenario to open the play-in tournament.

    Here you will find a look at the most notable seeding and play-in scenarios for the final day of the regular season. First, though, let's take a look at the standings.

Updated Standings with One Day Remaining

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    Marta Lavandier/Associated Press

    Eastern Conference

    1. Miami Heat (53-28)

    2. Milwaukee Bucks (51-30)

    3. Boston Celtics (50-31)

    4. Philadelphia 76ers (50-31)

    5. Toronto Raptors (48-33)

    6. Chicago Bulls (45-36)

    7. Brooklyn Nets (43-38)

    8. Cleveland Cavaliers (43-38)

    9. Atlanta Hawks (42-39)

    10. Charlotte Hornets (42-39)

    11. New York Knicks (36-45)

    12. Washington Wizards (35-46)

    13. Indiana Pacers (25-56)

    14. Detroit Pistons (23-58)

    15. Orlando Magic (21-60)


    Western Conference

    1. Phoenix Suns (64-17)

    2. Memphis Grizzlies (56-25)

    3. Golden State Warriors (52-29)

    4. Dallas Mavericks (51-30)

    5. Utah Jazz (48-33)

    6. Denver Nuggets (48-33)

    7. Minnesota Timberwolves (46-35)

    8. Los Angeles Clippers (41-40)

    9. New Orleans Pelicans (36-45)

    10. San Antonio Spurs (34-47)

    11. Los Angeles Lakers (32-49)

    12. Sacramento Kings (29-52)

    13. Portland Trail Blazers (27-54)

    14. Oklahoma City Thunder (24-57)

    15. Houston Rockets (20-61)

Eastern Conference Scenarios

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    Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    In the East, only three playoff spots are locked. The Miami Heat have clinched the No. 1 seed, while the Toronto Raptors and Chicago Bulls have clinched the fifth and sixth seeds, respectively.

    The Milwaukee Bucks can seal the No. 2 seed with a win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday. If the Bucks lose and the Boston Celtics defeat the Memphis Grizzlies, Boston will claim the No. 2 seed. Should the Celtics lose and the Philadelphia 76ers beat the Detroit Pistons, Boston could fall all the way to the No. 4 seed.

    Things get a lot more interesting when it comes to the play-in tournament, though. The Brooklyn Nets hold the No. 7 seed via tiebreaker—they are 3-1 against Cleveland in the regular season. If they beat the Indiana Pacers on Sunday, they are locked in as the seventh seed.

    A loss and a Cavaliers win would drop Brooklyn to the No. 8 seed. A loss and wins by the Cavaliers and Charlotte Hornets (at home against the Washington Wizards), coupled with an Atlanta Hawks loss (on the road against the Houston Rockets), would drop Brooklyn to the No. 9 spot.

    Cleveland is in a position to wind up in any of the four play-in spots, which obviously isn't ideal. The Cavs, though, are confident that they will be a problem—even if injured center Jarrett Allen can't return for the finale.

    "We're scary with him or without him," point guard Darius Garland said, per Chris Fedor of

    The Hawks and Hornets also have shots at the No. 8 seed and a chance of double-elimination basketball during the play-in tournament. In all, there are 16 scenarios could unfold for the play-in field Sunday—Schuyler Callihan of FanNation does an excellent job of breaking down all of them—but Brooklyn and Cleveland are the only teams that can claim a top play-in spot simply by winning.

Western Conference Scenarios

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    Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

    Things aren't quite as interesting in the West. The play-in field is set, as each team is at least two games apart. The Phoenix Suns and Memphis Grizzlies have also locked up the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds, respectively.

    The remaining four seeds will carry some drama on the final day, however.

    The Utah Jazz and Denver Nuggets both hold 48-33 records heading into their final games. Since Utah swept the regular-season series, it only needs a win or a Nuggets loss to the Los Angeles Lakers to claim the No. 5 seed. Denver needs a win and a Utah loss to the Portland Trail Blazers to move up from the No. 6 seed.

    The real drama is the battle for the third seed. With the Golden State Warriors' 100-94 win over the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday, Golden State is a win or a Dallas Mavericks loss away from claiming the No. 3 seed. Dallas must beat the Spurs and have the Warriors lose to the New Orleans Pelicans to move up.

    Dallas took three of four regular-season meetings with Golden State and will win the tiebreaker if both finish with the same record.

    As luck would have it for basketball fans, there are a couple of wrinkles to the Warriors-Mavs race. Golden State is likely to have Klay Thompson available on Sunday after deciding to sit him Saturday. As Dalton Johnson of NBC Sports pointed out, Thompson hasn't played in back-to-back games since returning from a torn Achilles but has typically played the first night.

    Golden State should have its red-hot three-point specialist in the lineup against New Orleans.

    The other interesting twist is that Mavericks star Luka Doncic will get to play against the Spurs after having his 16th regular-season technical foul rescinded, according to NBA insider Marc Stein, thus avoiding suspension for the game.

    The Warriors will still be without Stephen Curry (foot) until the playoffs, but Golden State and Dallas will be as close to full force as possible for their respective finales.