Tuesday, October 4 2022
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The Minnesota Timberwolves missed a big opportunity to creep within one game of the No. 5 Dallas Mavericks on Monday, losing 110-108 to Dallas to fall back into the play-in, one back of the No. 6 Denver Nuggets. Had Minnesota won, it would’ve controlled its own destiny to overtake Dallas with one more head-to-head matchup remaining. 

One the flip side, the Mavericks are now just one loss back of the No. 4 Utah Jazz, which lost in Brooklyn on Monday. 

We’re going to be keeping close tabs on the playoff race with daily updates the rest of the way. Below is where things stand entering play on Tuesday, March 22.

NOTE: Our SportsLine model, developed by predictive data engineer Stephen Oh, simulates the entire season 10,000 times and is constantly updating to reflect changing circumstances to produce the most unbiased and precise projections imaginable

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Phoenix has all but clinched the No. 1 overall seed and can’t finish any lower than the West’s No. 3 seed. 

  • Projected seed: 1
  • Current first-round matchup: TBD (play-in results)
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 2 GrizzliesSeason series 1-1 with one to play
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 3 Warriors: Golden State leads season series 2-1 with one to play

2. Memphis Grizzlies 

The Grizzlies have a one-game lead on No. 3 Golden State in the loss column with one head-to-head matchup remaining. Memphis looks pretty safe to at least secure a top-three seed with an effective five-game lead over No. 4 Utah (Grizzlies hold the tiebreaker). 

  • Projected seed: 2
  • Current first-round matchup: Timberwolves vs. Clippers play-in winner
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 3 Warriors: Grizzlies lead season series 2-1 with one to play
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 4 Jazz: Memphis has clinched with 2-1 head-to-head advantage
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 5 Mavericks: Dallas has clinched with 3-1 head-to-head advantage

3. Golden State Warriors

The Warriors fell to the Spurs on Sunday and have fallen one game back of No. 2 Memphis in the loss column. The Warriors have one matchup with the Grizzlies left on March 28, and they also play Utah, which they lead by three in the loss column, one more time (April 2). 

  • Projected seed: 3
  • Current first-round matchup: Nuggets
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 2 Grizzlies: Warriors trail season series 2-1 with one to play
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 4 Jazz: Warriors lead season series 2-1 with one to play
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 5 Mavericks: Dallas has clinched with 3-1 head-to-head advantage

4. Utah Jazz

Utah fell in Brooklyn on Monday and now holds just a one-game lead over No. 5 Dallas with one head-to-head matchup remaining on March 27. Utah trails No. 2 Memphis by an effective five games and No. 3 Golden State by three with 10 to play. 

  • Projected seed: 4
  • Current first-round matchup: Mavericks
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 2 Grizzlies: Memphis has clinched with 2-1 head-to-head advantage
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 3 Warriors: Jazz trail season series 2-1 with one to play
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 5 Mavericks: Jazz lead season series 2-1 with one to play
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 6 Nuggets: Utah has clinched with 4-0 head-to-head advantage

5. Dallas Mavericks

The Mavericks edged Minnesota on Monday to pull within one game of the No. 4 Jazz with one head-to-head matchup remaining. Dallas has an effective three-game lead over the No. 6 Nuggets (Dallas owns tiebreaker) and a three-game lead over the No. 7 Timberwolves as it inches closer to securing a playoff spot. 

  • Projected seed: 5
  • Current first-round matchup: Jazz
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 2 Grizzlies: Dallas has clinched with 3-1 head-to-head advantage
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 3 Warriors: Dallas has clinched with 3-1 head-to-head advantage
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 4 Jazz: Dallas trails season series 2-1 with one to play
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 6 Nuggets: Dallas has clinched with 2-1 head-to-head advantage
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 7 Timberwolves: Dallas leads season series 2-1 with one game to play

6. Denver Nuggets

For the time being, Denver moved back into a top-six seed by virtue of Minnesota’s loss to Dallas on Monday. The Nuggets lead the Wolves by one game with one head-to-head matchup remaining on April 1. Denver trails No. 5 Dallas by an effective three games as the Mavericks own the tiebreaker. 

  • Projected seed: 6
  • Current play-in matchup: Clippers
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 4 Jazz: Utah has clinched with 4-0 head-to-head advantage
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 5 Mavericks: Dallas has clinched with 2-1 head-to-head advantage
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 6 Timberwolves: Denver trails season series 2-1 with one game to play

CURRENT PLAY-IN TEAMS

7. Minnesota Timberwolves

The Wolves lost a tough one to Dallas on Monday but they still control their own destiny for a top-six seed, trailing the Nuggets by one game with one head-to-head remaining. If Minnesota wins that game on April 1, it would also clinch the season tiebreaker over Denver. 

  • Projected seed: 7
  • Current play-in matchup: Clippers
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 6 Nuggets: Timberwolves lead season series 2-1 with one game to play
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 8 Clippers: L.A. has clinched with 3-1 head-to-head advantage

8. Los Angeles Clippers

The Clippers are pretty firm in the No. 8 spot, trailing the No. 7 Timberwolves by six in the loss column and leading the No. 9 Lakers by an effective five games. 

  • Projected seed: 8
  • Current play-in matchup: Timberwolves
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 9 Pelicans: New Orleans has clinched with 3-0 head-to-head advantage
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 10 Lakers: Clippers have clinched with 4-0 head-to-head advantage

9. Los Angeles Lakers

The Lakers jumped New Orleans for the No. 9 seed with their win in Cleveland on Monday. They now lead the Pelicans by one in the loss column with two head-to-head matchups remaining. 

  • Projected seed: 10
  • Current play-in matchup: Pelicans
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 8 Clippers: Clippers have clinched with 4-0 head-to-head advantage
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 10 Pelicans: Lakers trail season series 1-0 with two matchups remaining
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 12 Spurs: San Antonio currently owns via conference record (head-to-head tied 2-2, neither team leads division)

10. New Orleans Pelicans

The Pelicans lost to Charlotte on Monday and trail the Lakers by one with two head-to-head matchups remaining (March 27 and April 1), which will determine the tiebreaker. The Pelicans have a two-loss lead over the No. 11 Spurs with two head-to-head matchups left. 

  • Projected seed: 9
  • Current play-in matchup: Lakers
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 9 Lakers: Pelicans lead season series 1-0 with two matchups remaining
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 12 Spurs: Pelicans trail season series 2-0 with two matchups remaining

OUTSIDE LOOKING IN

  • No. 11 San Antonio Spurs: Trailing No. 10 Pelicans by two in the loss column. 
  • No. 12 Portland Trail Blazers: Trailing No. 10 Pelicans by two in the loss column, but assumed to be tanking. 
The Mavericks are within one game of a top-four seed in the West. Getty Images

EASTERN CONFERENCE

1. Miami Heat

The Heat fell to Philadelphia on Monday and now own just a two-loss lead over No. 2 Philly and No. 3 Milwaukee. 

  • Projected seed: 1
  • Current first-round matchup: TBD (play-in results)
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 2 Milwaukee: Miami currently owns via conference record (season series 2-2, both teams leading division)
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 3 Philadelphia: Miami currently owns via conference record (season series tied 2-2, both teams leading division)

Philly was seemingly trying to lose against Miami on Monday (perhaps nobody wants the No. 2 seed as it could possibly carry a first-round matchup with the Nets) by sitting both Joel Embiid and James Harden, but it won anyway despite playing without its top two stars. 

Philly is tied with No. 2 Milwaukee with one head-to-head matchup remaining (March 29). The Sixers hold a one-loss lead over No. 4 Boston (whoever finishes higher would also hold tiebreaker as the Atlantic Division winner and the season series tied 2-2). The Sixers have an effective three-game lead over the No. 5 Bulls with the tiebreaker secured. 

  • Projected seed: 4
  • Current first-round matchup: Cavaliers
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 1 Miami: Miami currently owns via conference record (season series tied 2-2, both teams leading division)
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 2 Milwaukee: Season series tied 1-1 with one matchup remaining
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 4 Boston: Philly currently owns as Atlantic division leader (head-to-head tied 2-2)
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 5 Chicago: Sixers have clinched via 4-0 head-to-head advantage

The Bucks are tied with the No. 3 Sixers with one matchup remaining on March 29. If they’re still tied at that point, will either team actually be trying to win that game with the Nets possibly waiting as a first-round opponent for the No. 2 seed? 

  • Projected seed: 2
  • Current first-round matchup: Raptors vs. Nets play-in winner
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 1 Miami: Miami currently owns via conference record (season series 2-2, both teams leading division)
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 3 Philadelphia: Season series tied 1-1 with one game remaining
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 4 Boston: Bucks trail season series 2-1 with one game remaining
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 5 Chicago: Bucks lead season series 2-0 with two games remaining

4. Boston Celtics

The Celtics are just one game back of the No. 3 Sixers and No. 2 Bucks. The Celtics still have one game left with the Bucks; winning that game would secure the tiebreaker over Milwaukee. But again, do they really want to rise to No. 2 only to possibly face the Nets in the first round? Boston leads No. 5 Chicago by one in the loss column with one head-to-head remaining (April 6), which will also settle the tiebreaker.

  • Projected seed: 3
  • Current first-round matchup: Bulls
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 2 Milwaukee: Celtics lead season series 2-1 with one game remaining
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 3 Philadelphia: Philly currently owns as Atlantic division leader (head-to-head tied 2-2)
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 5 Chicago: Season series tied 1-1 with one game remaining
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 6 Cleveland: Celtics have clinched via 2-1 head-to-head advantage

5. Chicago Bulls

The Bulls are one loss back of the No. 4 Celtics with one head-to-head remaining, which will decide the tiebreaker, meaning Chicago controls its own destiny for a top-four seed. The Bulls lead the No. 6 Cavs by two games with one head-to-head matchup remaining (March 26). 

  • Projected seed: 5
  • Current first-round matchup: Celtics
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 2 Philadelphia: Sixers have clinched via 4-0 head-to-head advantage
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 3 Milwaukee: Bulls trail season series 2-0 with two games remaining
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 5 Boston: Season series tied 1-1 with one game remaining
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 6 Cleveland: Chicago leads series 2-1 with one matchup remaining

6. Cleveland Cavaliers

After falling to the Lakers on Monday, the Cavaliers are two back of the No. 5 Bulls in the loss column with one matchup remaining (March 26). Cleveland’s more pressing concern is staying out of the play-in; the Cavs lead the No. 7 Raptors by just one game, but the Cavs own the tiebreaker so that lead is effectively two. 

  • Projected seed: 6
  • Current first-round matchup: Sixers
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 4 Chicago: Season series tied 1-1 with two games remaining
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 5 Boston: Celtics have clinched via 2-1 head-to-head advantage
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 7 Toronto: Cavs have clinched via 3-0 head-to-head advantage with game remaining

CURRENT PLAY-IN TEAMS

7. Toronto Raptors

The Raptors have crawled within one game in the loss column of the No. 6 Cavs (Cleveland owns the tiebreaker so that margin is effectively two). As it stands right now, Toronto would play No. 8 Brooklyn (which it leads by two in the loss column) in the first Eastern Conference play-in game. 

  • Projected seed: 7
  • Current play-in matchup: Nets
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 6 Cleveland: Cavs have clinched via 3-0 head-to-head advantage with game remaining
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 8 Brooklyn: Raptors currently hold via division winning percentage (season series tied 2-2)

8. Brooklyn Nets

The Nets beat Utah on Monday and are two games back of the No. 7 Raptors with 10 games to play. The Nets’ priority is staying in the first play-in game. They only lead No. 9 Charlotte by one game with one matchup remaining, which will determine the tiebreaker (March 27). 

  • Projected seed: 8
  • Current play-in matchup: Raptors
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 7 Toronto: Raptors currently hold via division winning percentage (season series tied 2-2)
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 9 Charlotte: Season series tied 1-1 with one matchup remaining
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 10 Atlanta: Nets have clinched via 2-0 head-to-head advantage with one game remaining
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 11 Washington: Nets currently own via conference record (season series tied 2-2)

The Hornets have won five straight, and they control their own destiny to pass Brooklyn for No. 8. With 10 games remaining, the Hornets trail the Nets by one game with one matchup remaining (March 27), which will determine the tiebreaker. Charlotte leads No. 10 Atlanta by one in the loss column. 

  • Projected seed: 9
  • Current play-in matchup: Hawks
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 8 Brooklyn: Season series tied 1-1 with one matchup remaining
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 10 Atlanta: Hornets currently own via conference record

Atlanta currently trails the No. 9 Hornets by one game and the No. 8 Nets by two in the loss column (one matchup with Brooklyn remaining, though the Nets have already clinched the tiebreaker).

  • Projected seed: 10
  • Current play-in matchup: Hornets
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 8 Brooklyn: Nets have clinched via 2-0 head-to-head advantage with one game remaining
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 9 Charlotte: Charlotte currently owns via conference win percentage

OUTSIDE LOOKING IN

  • No. 11 Washington Wizards: Five losses back of No. 10 Atlanta
  • No. 12 New York KnicksFive losses back of No. 10 Atlanta

Source: CBSSports.com

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