NBA playoff picture: Everything at stake in the final week of the season

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The 2018-19 NBA regular season ends on Wednesday. Thirteen of the 16 playoff spots have been claimed, but the seeding situation remains a mess. We’ll keep this guide updated through Wednesday to provide some clear info on what teams need to do to either lock up their playoff bid or preferred seed.

Here’s a quick breakdown on tiebreakers:

  • If teams have equal overall records, the first tiebreaker is head-to-head record.
  • If that is tied and one of the teams involved won their division, they receive the nod.
  • If the teams are in the same division and neither won the division, the next tiebreaker is record within the division.
  • If the teams are in different divisions and neither or both won their division, the next tiebreaker is conference record.
  • The next tiebreaker is record against playoff teams in their own conference.
  • We’re getting deep into the weeds now. The next tiebreaker is record against playoff teams in the other conference.
  • The next tiebreaker is overall point differential.
  • If even that can’t settle matters, there’s a random drawing.

Three- and four-way ties have similar but slightly more complicated tiebreaking criteria.

The NBA playoffs begin on Saturday, April 13.

Last Updated: Sunday, April 7

Eastern Conference

Teams that have clinched spots

Milwaukee Bucks
Toronto Raptors
Philadelphia 76ers
Boston Celtics
Indiana Pacers
Brooklyn Nets

Playoff spots remaining: 2
Teams still eligible to make playoffs

Detroit Pistons
Orlando Magic
Miami Heat
Charlotte Hornets

Seeds clinched

Bucks, No. 1
Raptors, No. 2
Pacers, No. 5

Seed ranges

Sixers, 50-30: Nos. 3-4 (need 1 win in final 2 games to guarantee No. 3 seed)
Celtics, 48-32: Nos. 3-5 (have tiebreaker against Sixers)
Nets, 41-40: Nos. 6-7 (depending on where Orlando and Detroit finish)

Playoff chase breakdown

Magic: 40-40 with two games left (at Celtics, at Hornets). Orlando has the tiebreaker over the Heat. The Pistons and Nets have tiebreakers over Orlando. The Hornets lead the season series the with Magic, 2-1, with one game remaining. Orlando’s magic number to clinch a spot is one.

Pistons: 39-41 with two games left (vs. Grizzlies, at Knicks). Detroit has the tiebreaker over the Magic and Heat. The Nets and Hornets have tiebreakers over Detroit. The Pistons’ magic number to clinch a spot is three.

Hornets: 38-42 with two games left (at Cavaliers, vs. Magic). Charlotte has tiebreakers over the Pistons, Nets, and Heat, and trail the season series over Magic 2-1 with one game remaining.

Heat: 38-42 with two games left (vs. Sixers, at Nets). Miami has control of no tiebreakers. The Heat no longer control their own destiny.

Most critical games

Heat at Nets, Wednesday
Magic at Hornets, Wednesday

Western Conference

Teams that have clinched spots

Golden State Warriors
Denver Nuggets
Houston Rockets
Portland Trail Blazers
Utah Jazz
LA Clippers
Oklahoma City Thunder
San Antonio Spurs

Playoff spots remaining: 0
Seeds clinched: None.
Seed ranges

Warriors: Nos. 1-2 (clinch No. 1 with 1 more win)
Nuggets: Nos. 1-3
Rockets: Nos. 2-4
Blazers: Nos. 3-5
Jazz: Nos. 4-7
Thunder: Nos. 5-8
Clippers: Nos. 6-8
Spurs: Nos. 6-8

Seed breakdown

Warriors: 55-24 with three games left. They have the tiebreaker over the Nuggets. Likely to be No. 1 seed.

Nuggets: 53-26 with three games left. Lost tiebreaker against Houston, and as such, Denver needs two more wins to guarantee the No. 2 seed.

Rockets: 52-28 with two games left. Won tiebreaker against Denver, but lost tiebreaker to Portland. Needs to win one game more than Denver to take No. 2. Needs to win out to guarantee keeping No. 3 over Portland.

Blazers: 50-29 with three games left. Needs help to climb above No. 4. Tiebreakers with Utah remain undecided and complicated, so Portland needs to stay a game ahead of the Jazz to guarantee the No. 4 spot and home court in the first round. Portland has tiebreaker with Houston.

Jazz: 49-30 with three games left. Tiebreakers with Portland are messy and unresolved. Utah has the tiebreaker over the Clippers and lost the tiebreaker against Oklahoma City. Really likely to be No. 5 unless truly weird stuff happens.

Clippers: 47-33 with two games left. Tiebreakers with Spurs and Thunder are complicated and undecided.

Thunder: 47-33 with three games left. Need to win one more game than the Spurs (who have three games left) to escape No. 8 and a likely first-round series with the Warriors, unless the Clippers fall apart.

Spurs: 47-34 with two games left. Need to win as many games as the Thunder (who have an extra game) to escape No. 8 and a likely first-round series with the Warriors, unless the Clippers fall apart.

Most critical games

Most of them. All of them? But especially …

Clippers at Warriors, Sunday
Nuggets at Blazers, Sunday
Nuggets at Jazz, Monday
Rockets at Thunder, Monday
Jazz at Clippers, Wednesday

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