The Eastern Conference has gone largely as expected at the top of the standings this season, but the middle of the pack’s chase for the NBA playoffs has been utter chaos. As recently as February 26th, the fourth-place team in the East had a .500 record, and for much of the past couple of months, the team in that slot has had a record just a game or two above that breakeven mark.
In addition to the traditional playoff races, this season’s play-in tournament adds a whole new wrinkle. For details on how that works, click here, but suffice it to say that the seventh through 10th teams in each conference will battle it out for the final two spots.
Predicting the Eastern Conference standings and compelling races for the NBA playoffs
There is plenty of room for movement at all levels of the standings in the East, with a first-place tie between the Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets (both with 39-20 records) setting a tone for the rest of the conference.
The top three are likely set, with the Milwaukee Bucks bringing up the rear and a 4.0 game gap between them and the fourth-place New York Knicks. However, only 0.5 games separate the Knicks from the sixth-place Boston Celtics and the Knicks are just 1.5 games ahead of the seventh-place Miami Heat and the play-in.
As for the play-in tier itself, there are three teams from 10th through 12th, all separated by just 0.5 games. The 25-34 Washington Wizards are currently alone in 10th place, followed closely by the Chicago Bulls and Toronto Raptors.
Let’s take a look at how this wild race for the NBA playoffs could end up by going over our predictions for the final standings in the Eastern Conference.