Skip to content

NBA playoff picture: East pretty much set, West not so much

Apr 23, 2012, 9:59 AM EDT

Taj Gibson AP

There are just four days of NBA games left and a lot is left to be decided in the playoffs.

Well, at least in the Western Conference.

The East is pretty much locked up, and although the cement has not fully dried on all the games, we have a pretty good idea what the matchups will be. The West, however, is a lot more fluid, with some key games this week to determine things.

With the East, the matchups would be:

Bulls (1) vs. 76ers (8)
Heat (2) vs. Knicks (7)
Pacers (3) vs. Magic (6)
Celtics (4) vs. Hawks (5)

The Boston vs. Atlanta matchup is locked in, the only question remaining is who gets home court. Boston is the No. 4 seed by virtue of winning the Atlantic Division, but that does not guarantee home court — the Hawks have the better record by a game after their win over a Celtics team that rested pretty much everybody Friday.

While Indiana vs. Orlando isn’t officially a lock, one more Magic win and it is — and the Magic play the Bobcats this week. So, consider it a lock.

There is a mathematical chance the Bucks could catch the 76ers for the eight seed, but it’s not happening. It also is possible that the Sixers could pass the Knicks and get the seven seed, but Basketball Prospectus puts that at 4.9 percent. Basically, what you see is what you get in the East.

The West matchups as of Monday morning:

Spurs (1) vs. Jazz (8)
Thunder (2) vs. Mavericks (7)
Lakers (3) vs. Nuggets (6)
Clippers (4) vs. Grizzlies (5)

San Antonio has a magic number of one to get the top seed, so that is happening, which will lock Oklahoma City in at No. 2. Also, the Lakers’ magic number to win the Pacific (and hold on to the three seed) is one (the Lakers have the tiebreaker over the Clippers, meaning that half-game lead is really one and a half). So what we’re saying is that although it’s not yet official, the top three seeds in the West are close to locked in.

Then it gets messy. The Grizzlies are a game back but could catch the Clippers for the No. 4 seed — however a Clippers-Grizzlies matchup may be the one thing we can count on in the West. Basketball Prospectus puts the odds of that happening at 95.9 percent.

Phoenix plays Utah on Tuesday, and that could shape who gets the eight seed (Utah is one game up right now). Also, only half a game separates Denver and Dallas for the six/seven seeds, so that could shift. I wouldn’t be shocked if today’s order is the final order, but things are still fluid.

Latest Posts
  1. Elimination game Josh Smith is a thing, Rockets live to play another day

    May 26, 2015, 2:29 AM EDT

    Josh Smith AP

    In the four Rockets’ elimination games this season, Smith has 63 points on 22-of-34 shooting (64.7 percent).

  2. Rockets show it’s better to have James Harden than to not have Stephen Curry

    May 25, 2015, 11:59 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    MVP runner-up shines while MVP misses substantial portion of Houston’s Game 4 win

  3. Danny Ainge consulted with Celtics’ guard Isaiah Thomas about potential free agents

    May 25, 2015, 10:30 PM EDT

    Isaiah Thomas AP

    It’s a sign Thomas may be around for a little bit.

  4. NBA will not move up Finals start date; June 4 locked in for Game 1

    May 25, 2015, 7:30 PM EDT

    Miami Heat Victory Parade And Rally Getty Images

    The league had been exploring moving Game 1 up to June 2.

  5. LeBron James calls for non-violence after Brelo verdict

    May 25, 2015, 4:30 PM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznptfhodazn2mxnwvmm2zknmq1mdljytayytg0mtuynwi4 AP

    Cavaliers star says he will research case further before saying more

  6. Rumor: Paul Pierce might opt out of contract with Wizards, join Clippers

    May 25, 2015, 2:59 PM EDT

    Atlanta Hawks v Washington Wizards-Game Six Getty Images

    Doc Rivers decided to offer his mid-level exception money last summer to Spencer Hawes instead of Pierce. He’d like that one over.

  7. LeBron James carries load, makes enough plays in Cavaliers win (VIDEO)

    May 25, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT

    Atlanta Hawks v Cleveland Cavaliers - Game Three Getty Images

    LeBron finished with 37 points, 18 rebounds and 13 assists .

  8. Al Horford ejected after elbow to Matthew Dellavedova’s shoulder (VIDEO)

    May 24, 2015, 9:46 PM EDT

    Al Horford Al Horford

    A trend is becoming clear: Do not mess with Dellavedova.

Featured video

Will Klay Thompson get a little help on James Harden?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Irving (6594)
  2. K. Love (5563)
  3. S. Curry (5539)
  4. D. Howard (5264)
  5. L. James (4305)
  1. D. Carroll (4263)
  2. K. Bryant (3627)
  3. P. Beverley (3535)
  4. K. Durant (3493)
  5. K. Korver (3489)