NBA Playoffs 2022: Known Schedule, Bracket Picture Before Final Games of Season

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistApril 10, 2022

New York Knicks' Evan Fournier (13) defends Brooklyn Nets' Kevin Durant (7) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, April 6, 2022, in New York. The Nets won 110-98. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

The Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks are three combined wins away from setting up one of the most anticipated first-round series in NBA history.

Brooklyn needs to beat the Indiana Pacers on Sunday to secure the No. 7 spot in the standings, which will make it the host of one of two Eastern Conference play-in games.

The Nets' play-in round opponent will be determined by the Bucks' result versus the Cleveland Cavaliers. That game and the Brooklyn-Indiana clash occur at the same time Sunday afternoon.

Milwaukee needs a victory to lock in the No. 2 seed, which would land it a matchup against the winner of the Nets' play-in game. Brooklyn can face either Cleveland or the Atlanta Hawks for the right to take on the Bucks. Atlanta jumps up to the No. 8 spot with a win over the Houston Rockets and a Cleveland loss to Milwaukee.

The Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers will be waiting in their respective locker rooms to see what the Bucks do. Boston and Philadelphia play in the second time window Sunday. Neither team can land the No. 2 seed if Milwaukee wins.

The Western Conference has far less confusion in its remaining seeding scenarios. The Golden State Warriors need to beat the New Orleans Pelicans to hold on to the No. 3 seed. The Utah Jazz must defeat the Portland Trail Blazers to land the No. 5 seed.


Known Playoff Schedule

The NBA released the schedule for the play-in rounds Saturday night.

NBA Communications @NBAPR

Update for next week's Meta Quest NBA Play-In Tournament schedule ⬇️ https://t.co/G2hkJVYH1w

The two teams that advance from each conference will either start the first round Saturday or Sunday, when all eight of the series begin.


Eastern Conference

1. Miami (53-28)

2. Milwaukee (51-30)

3. Boston (50-31)

4. Philadelphia (50-31)

5. Toronto (48-33)

6. Chicago (45-36)  


Play-In Standings

7. Brooklyn (43-38)

8. Cleveland (43-38)

9. Atlanta (42-39)

10. Charlotte (42-39)


All eyes will be on the Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks in the early window of play Sunday.

The Nets are expected to blow out the Indiana Pacers, who have spent the past month playing for the best possible draft position. Indiana is also coming off a Saturday afternoon clash with the Philadelphia 76ers, while the Nets had a day off following their win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Cleveland is not guaranteed to set up a rematch with Brooklyn because it has to deal with the Bucks. Milwaukee needs a victory over the Cavs to clinch the No. 2 seed ahead of the Celtics and the 76ers. The Bucks hold a one-game advantage over both squads going into Sunday.

The Cavs are 2-8 in their past 10 games. They dealt with injuries to Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen. Mobley returned Friday, but they still fell on the road in Brooklyn.

A Milwaukee win would keep Boston and Philadelphia away from the No. 2 seed, and it would open the door for Atlanta to grab the No. 8 spot in the East. The Hawks visit the tanking Houston Rockets on Sunday. They should win that game and will likely get updates throughout the contest on how the Cavs are faring in Milwaukee.

The Charlotte Hornets will likely be the No. 10 seed because Atlanta should beat the Rockets. The Hornets will visit the No. 9 seed in the play-in round.

Boston dictates the race for the No. 3 seed. The Celtics can clinch the No. 3 seed with a win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday night. Philadelphia needs to beat the Detroit Pistons at home and have the Celtics lose to the Grizzlies to jump a spot in the standings.

The No. 2 seed would be up for grabs if the Bucks fall to the Cavs, but at minimum, Boston will be playing for the No. 3 seed and the right to play the Chicago Bulls.


Western Conference

1. Phoenix (64-17)

2. Memphis (56-25)

3. Golden State (52-29)

4. Dallas (51-30)

5. Utah (48-33)

6. Denver (48-33) 


Play-In Standings

7. Minnesota (46-35)

8. LA Clippers (41-40)

9. New Orleans (36-45)

10. San Antonio (34-47)


The order of the teams seeded third through sixth is the only thing left to play for in the Western Conference.

The simple math in those scenarios requires the Golden State Warriors and Utah Jazz to win their respective games Sunday.

That is likely to happen since the Warriors face a Spurs team that is resting up for its play-in matchup with the New Orleans Pelicans.

Utah visits the Portland Trail Blazers in a contest that could get ugly fast given the state of both rosters.

If those results happen, Golden State would be locked into a first-round matchup with the Denver Nuggets, while the Jazz would be the road team in its opening two contests with the Dallas Mavericks.

Dallas and Denver both need victories combined with losses from the teams one spot ahead of them in the standings to move up one position in the West standings Sunday.

The rest of the playoff scenarios are set in stone. The Memphis Grizzlies will play the winner of the Minnesota Timberwolves versus Los Angeles Clippers play-in round contest.

The Wolves-Clippers loser faces the New Orleans-San Antonio winner with a chance to play Phoenix on the line.