2010 NBA Playoff Scenarios
In the East, the 2-7 pairing -- Orlando vs. Charlotte -- is set in stone. Cleveland iced the No. 1 seed last week, but still waits to find out who it will face starting this weekend. If Chicago wins at Charlotte tonight or Toronto loses at home against the Knicks, the Bulls will win the No. 8. If the Bulls lose and the Raptors win, Toronto gets the eighth seed. Cleveland faces the victory in the 1-8 match-up.
The Celtics lost Tuesday, clinching the No. 3 seed for Atlanta. If the Bucks beat the Celtics tonight and Miami loses to the Nets, Milwaukee would clinch the No. 4 seed and face Boston in the first round, pairing off Atlanta and Miami in the 3-6 match-up. If Miami wins, or if the Bucks lose, the Heat would clinch the No. 5 seed, setting up Atlanta-Milwaukee in the 3-6 and Boston-Miami in the 4-5. Interestingly enough, Boston may want the Bucks, missing star center Andrew Bogut, and as such could rest some players Wednesday. On the other side, the Heat have beat Atlanta in three of four match-ups this season, and could help set up that pairing with a loss. If Dwyane Wade sits, you know why.
The West likewise has loose ends as we enter the final day of regular season play.
• The 1-8 pairing -- the Lakers against the Thunder -- is set in stone.
• Dallas can clinch the No. 2 with a win or a Jazz loss to the Suns. If the Mavericks do get the No. 2 seed, they will face Portland or San Antonio. Dallas would have home court advantage if they made it to the second round.
• If the Mavs lose and the Jazz win, Dallas would become the No. 3 seed, and would face either Portland or San Antonio. Dallas would not have home court advantage in the second round.
• If the Jazz lose (which means the Suns would move to 54-29), Denver is the Northwest Division champion and clinches the No. 4 seed. The Jazz would fall to No. 5. The pair would meet in the first round, with the Nuggets holding home court advantage. The Suns would draw either Portland or San Antonio.
• If the Jazz win (which means a Suns loss), but the Mavericks also win, Utah clinches the No. 3 seed. The Suns would fall to No. 4, meeting the Nuggets (No. 5) in the first round.
• If Portland beats the visiting Warriors, the Blazers clinch the No. 6 seed, and would face either Dallas, Utah or Phoenix pending the above results.
• If San Antonio beats Dallas and the Blazers lose, the Spurs become the No. 6 seed, and would face Dallas, Utah or Phoenix. The Blazers would fall to No. 7 and face the Mavericks or Jazz.
What is the most likely result in all this? According to win probability published daily by Basketball-Reference.com, here's my interpretation of how things will most likely shake out.
Cleveland (1) vs. Chicago (8)
Orlando (2) vs. Charlotte (7)
Atlanta (3) vs. Milwaukee (6)
Boston (4) vs. Miami (5)
L.A. Lakers (1) vs. Oklahoma City (8)
Dallas (2) vs. San Antonio (7)
Utah (3) vs. Portland (6)
Phoenix (4) vs. Denver (5)
Of course, if we're patient, we'll know in a few hours.