The 2023 NBA playoffs are almost here.
The Golden State Warriors are the defending champions but are still battling to qualify for the postseason, in which 16 teams will face off in four rounds of action to determine the 2023 NBA champion.
The top six teams in each conference automatically qualify for the playoffs, while the teams that finish the regular season in seventh through 10th place will advance to the NBA’s play-in tournament to determine the final two playoff teams in each conference. The play-in tournament will take place April 11-14, with the first round of the playoffs tipping off on April 15.
The NBA Finals are set to tip off on June 1, with Game 7 — should the series go that long — scheduled for June 18. All NBA Finals games will be available on ABC and the ESPN App.
Playoff tiebreaker scenarios
With four days left in the NBA’s regular season, there is plenty left to be decided. Here’s a look at where everything stands in each conference, and how it could all shake out:
No. 1 seed: Milwaukee Bucks
Wednesday night’s win against the Chicago Bulls locked the Bucks into the top seed in the East and ensured Milwaukee of the best record in the NBA.
No. 2 seed: Boston Celtics
Wednesday night’s win against the Toronto Raptors locked the Celtics into the second seed in the East.
No. 3 seed: Philadelphia 76ers
Boston beating Toronto on Wednesday locked Philadelphia into the third seed in the East.
No. 4 seed: Cleveland Cavaliers
Cleveland is locked into fourth, and will play New York in the first round.
No. 5 seed: New York Knicks
New York is locked into fifth, and will play Cleveland in the first round.
No. 6 seed: Brooklyn Nets
Brooklyn’s win against the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday means the Nets are one win, or a Heat loss, away from clinching the final play-in spot in the East, and a first-round series with the 76ers.
No. 7 seed: Miami Heat
Miami needs two wins in its final three games — Thursday in Philadelphia, Friday in Washington, Sunday at home against Orlando – to lock up the seventh seed. The Heat win a tiebreaker with Atlanta by virtue of winning the season series between the teams, but lose one to Toronto. In a three-way tie with the Hawks and Raptors, Miami would finish eighth.
No. 8 seed: Atlanta Hawks
Atlanta needs to win one more game to clinch the tiebreaker with Toronto. The Hawks have a home game against Philadelphia Friday, and finish the season at Boston Sunday. Atlanta loses a head-to-head tiebreak with Miami, wins it against Toronto, and will finish ninth if it’s a three-way tie with the Heat and Raptors.
No. 9 seed: Toronto Raptors
After losing to Boston on Wednesday, the Raptors need help to get out of the ninth spot. The Raptors play in Boston again on Friday before finishing the season at home against Milwaukee on Sunday. The Raptors finish seventh in a 3-way tie with the Heat and Hawks, win the tiebreak with Miami and lose it with Atlanta.
No. 10 seed: Chicago Bulls
Chicago is locked into the 10th and final play-in spot after losing at Milwaukee on Wednesday night.
No. 1 seed: Denver Nuggets
Denver is locked into the top seed in the West after Memphis lost to New Orleans on Wednesday night.
No. 2 seed: Memphis Grizzlies
With Sacramento losing Wednesday night, Memphis only needs to win one of its final two games to clinch the No. 2 seed.
No. 3 seed: Sacramento Kings
One more Kings loss or one more Grizzlies win not only locks Memphis into the second seed, but Sacramento into third.
No. 4 seed: Phoenix Suns
Phoenix is locked into the fourth seed in the West.
No. 5 seed: LA Clippers
After beating the Lakers Wednesday night, the Clippers are in fifth in the West by virtue of holding the tiebreaker with Golden State thanks to having a better division record. If the Clippers win their final two games – Saturday at home against the Portland Trail Blazers, and Sunday in Phoenix – the Clippers will be the fifth seed.
No. 6 seed: Golden State Warriors
If Golden State wins its final two games – at Sacramento on Friday and at Portland on Sunday – the Warriors cannot finish lower than sixth. Golden State will lose head-to-head tiebreakers against every single team around them.
No. 7 seed: Los Angeles Lakers
After losing to the Clippers Wednesday night, the Lakers will need help to avoid the play-in. If Golden State wins its final two games, the Clippers only need to win one of their remaining two games to stay ahead of the Lakers. Meanwhile, the Lakers win a head-to-head tiebreak with the Pelicans and lose one to the Timberwolves.
In a three-way tie at 42 wins with New Orleans and Minnesota, the Lakers would finish second. In a four-way tie with the Clippers, Pelicans and Wolves at 42 wins, the Lakers would finish last – behind the Wolves, Pelicans and Clippers, in that order. In a five-way tie with those four teams and the Warriors at 42 wins, the Lakers would finish in eighth – behind Minnesota, New Orleans and the Clippers, but ahead of Golden State.
In a three-way tie at 43 wins with New Orleans and the Clippers, the Lakers would finish third behind the Pelicans and Clippers, in that order. In a four-way tie at 43 wins with the Pelicans, Clippers and Warriors, the Lakers would finish third – behind the Pelicans and Clippers, but ahead of the Warriors.
No. 8 seed: New Orleans Pelicans
New Orleans beat Memphis Wednesday night to pull into a tie with the Lakers for seventh in the West, but loses the tiebreak to the Lakers by virtue of Los Angeles winning the season series 3-1. The Pelicans host the Knicks on Friday and are at Minnesota on Sunday. Wins in both of those games will guarantee the Pelicans finish in the top 8 in the West. In a 3-way tie with the Lakers and Minnesota, New Orleans would finish ninth.
No. 9 seed: Minnesota Timberwolves
If Minnesota wins Saturday in San Antonio, it sets up a winner-take-all game for a top-8 seed in the West between the Timberwolves and Pelicans Sunday afternoon. Minnesota wins a tiebreak with the Lakers, and would finish seventh in a three-way tie with the Lakers and Pelicans. Minnesota cannot finish lower than 9th.
No. 10 seed: Oklahoma City Thunder
Dallas winning Wednesday keeps the door open for the Mavericks, but the Thunder still control their destiny. Wins over Utah Thursday and Memphis Sunday will clinch a play-in spot for Oklahoma City. For Dallas, it will take a combination of wins over Chicago Friday and San Antonio Sunday, plus an OKC loss, to make it into next week’s play-in tournament.
The Boston Celtics are the defending Eastern Conference champions.
Through games played Wednesday, the Milwaukee Bucks, Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers, Cleveland Cavaliers and New York Knicks have clinched a playoff berth and have locked in the top five seeds in the East. The Toronto Raptors and the Chicago Bulls are guaranteed a spot in the play-in tournament. The Miami Heat and Atlanta Hawks will also be in the play-in tournament, unless either team overtakes the Brooklyn Nets for sixth.
The Bucks, who won the NBA championship in 2021, are the top seed in the East, but the Celtics can still overtake them in the standings.
As of Wednesday, the first-round playoff matchups would be:
1. Bucks vs. 8. Play-in winner
2. Celtics vs. 7. Play-in winner
3. 76ers vs. 6. Nets
4. Cavaliers vs. 5. Knicks
Knicks clinch playoff berth with win over Wizards
The Knicks grab a 118-109 win over the Wizards to seal their spot in the playoffs.
The Golden State Warriors are the defending Western Conference champions.
Through games played Tuesday, the Denver Nuggets, Memphis Grizzlies, Sacramento Kings and Phoenix Suns have clinched a playoff berth.
The Nuggets are the top seed in the West, but the Grizzlies can still overtake them in the standings. The Lakers and Pelicans have clinched spots in the play-in.
As of Wednesday, the first-round playoff matchups would be:
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