The 2019 NBA Playoffs will begin on April 13. With almost a month left of the season, the top three to four playoff spots in both conferences won’t change much. However, the last few spots are far from certain.
Which teams in the East and West will make a push and secure the final two playoff spots?
In the weaker Eastern Conference, there are four or five teams battling for positioning between the sixth and eighth seeds.
Brooklyn and Detroit are currently at those spots and have better records than the other teams trying to break into the playoff picture. Three games behind Detroit is Miami, Charlotte, Orlando and Washington.
Based on the strength of schedule of the remaining games, Orlando and Washington, while further back in the standings, have an easier road ahead of them. They are 27th and 28th in the rankings.
Miami will face Milwaukee twice, as well as Toronto, OKC and Philadelphia. Charlotte will take on Toronto twice, along with Golden State, Philadelphia and Boston.
Detroit is currently playing well. Behind Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond’s career-years, they are 8-2 in their last 10 games.
Brooklyn is also playing strong basketball, beating the Pistons on Tuesday and taking the sixth seed from them. However, they have the toughest schedule going forward. Despite this, look for the Nets as well as the Pistons to stay in the playoff picture at the sixth and seventh spots.
Despite their schedule going forward, Miami will likely hang on to the last spot in the Eastern Conference. However, don’t be surprised if Orlando steals it from them in the final stretch of the season. The game between the two on March 26th could be more important than anyone would have thought.
7th seed- Brooklyn Nets
8th seed- Miami Heat
The Clippers, Spurs, and Jazz currently have a hold on the last three spots in the Western Conference.
L.A. and San Antonio are both currently playing great, with the Spurs winning six in a row. Going forward, they rank 21st and 25th in strength of schedule. Getting hot at the right time is important in all sports, and with easier teams coming up, look for the Clippers and Spurs to hang onto the sixth and seventh seeds.
As for the eighth seed, Utah currently holds that spot. Behind them is Sacramento, who trail them by four games in the standings, and Minnesota, who are five and a half games back.
The Jazz are in a very fortunate position with 15 games left in the season. They have the easiest schedule in the NBA, including facing the abysmal Suns two more times.
Unfortunately for Sacramento and Minnesota, they will likely be on the outside looking in come playoff time.
The Kings would have liked to make the playoffs obviously, but their season was still a success. Buddy Hield, De’Aaron Fox and the rest of their young core made big strides this season. Winning only 27 games last year, the Kings will likely finish around .500 or better. This season will be built on going forward.
7th seed- San Antonio Spurs
8th seed- Utah Jazz
The playoff seeding is more or less in place now. Unless a team completely collapses, Brooklyn, Miami, San Antonio and Utah will find themselves playing late-April basketball. Two young teams, Orlando and Sacramento will miss out on the playoffs this season, but just barely.
Featured image courtesy of NBA.