NBA playoff picture: 76ers clinch top seed in East, Lakers in limbo for play-in tournament or last spot in West

Los Angeles Lakers, NBA Playoffs, Philadelphia 76ers

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The Philadelphia 76ers and the Los Angeles Lakers will enter the 2021 NBA Playoffs differently.

With only two days’ worth of regular-season games left, teams like the Philadelphia 76ers and the Los Angeles Lakers are approaching the 2021 NBA Playoffs in a completely different manner.

Philadelphia has clinched the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. New head coach Doc Rivers has helped get the most out the 76ers this year. They are in their best position to contend for an NBA championship since winning it all with Julius Erving and Moses Malone way back in 1983. As for the Lakers, they hope to avoid the play-in tournament at all costs. Can they get a top-six seed?

Here is how the NBA playoff picture looks heading into the six games on the slate for Saturday.

NBA playoff picture, Eastern Conference (Saturday, May 15)

  1. x-Philadelphia 76ers (48-23)
  2. x-Brooklyn Nets (46-24)
  3. x-Milwaukee Bucks (45-25)
  4. x-Atlanta Hawks (40-31)
  5. x-Miami Heat (39-31)
  6. x-New York Knicks (39-31)
  7. pi-Boston Celtics (35-35)
  8. pi-Charlotte Hornets (33-37)
  9. pi-Indiana Pacers (33-37)
  10. pi-Washington Wizards (33-38)

x-Clinched playoff 
pi-Clinched play-in

With the Washington Wizards getting the last play-in tournament spot over the Chicago Bulls on Friday night, all that is left to be decided in the Eastern Conference is playoff positioning. The No. 2 and No. 3 seeds are still up for grabs between the Brooklyn Nets and the Milwaukee Bucks. The Atlanta Hawks, the Miami Heat and the New York Knicks are still playing for seeds No. 4 to No. 6.

As far as the play-in tournament, the Boston Celtics are in great shape to be the No. 7 team. There is too much left to be decided between the Charlotte Hornets, Indiana Pacers and Washington for the No. 8 through No. 10 spots in the play-in tournament. There is not a great deal of separation between all four play-in tournament teams, so any two teams could advance to the NBA Playoffs.

NBA playoff picture, Western Conference (Saturday, May 15)

  1. x-Utah Jazz (51-20)
  2. x-Phoenix Suns (49-21)
  3. x-Denver Nuggets (47-24)
  4. x-LA Clippers (47-24)
  5. x-Dallas Mavericks (42-29)
  6. Portland Trail Blazers (41-30)
  7. Los Angeles Lakers (40-30)
  8. pi-Golden State Warriors (38-33)
  9. pi-Memphis Grizzlies (38-33)
  10. pi-San Antonio Spurs (33-37)

Out West, things are a bit more interesting. While the Utah Jazz and the Phoenix Suns have locked up to the top two seeds respectively, the Denver Nuggets and the LA Clippers are still battling for No. 3 and No. 4. While the Dallas Mavericks have gotten in as a playoff team, either the Lakers or the Portland Trail Blazers will get the last spot into the top-six out of the Western Conference.

Los Angeles or Portland will have to settle for the play-in tournament. The No. 7 team would face either the Golden State Warriors or the Memphis Grizzlies, depending on how Sunday’s regular-season finale goes in San Francisco. The loser of the Grizzlies at Warriors game will be heavily favored over the 10th-place team in the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs are a long shot to get in.

Here is to an exciting final two days of regular-season basketball on the NBA hardwood.

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