The 2023 NBA playoffs are almost here.
The Golden State Warriors are the defending champions but are still battling to qualify for the postseason, in which 16 teams will face off in four rounds of action to determine the 2023 NBA champion.
The top six teams in each conference automatically qualify for the playoffs, while the teams that finish the regular season in seventh through 10th place will advance to the NBA’s play-in tournament to determine the final two playoff teams in each conference. The play-in tournament will take place April 11-14, with the first round of the playoffs tipping off on April 15.
The NBA Finals are set to tip off on June 1, with Game 7 — should the series go that long — scheduled for June 18. All NBA Finals games will be available on ABC and the ESPN App.
Playoff tiebreaker scenarios
With three days left in the NBA’s regular season, there is plenty left to be decided. All of the Eastern Conference seeds are set, but there is still a lot to be decided in the West. Here’s a look at where everything stands, and how it could all shake out:
No. 1 seed: Milwaukee Bucks
Wednesday night’s win against the Chicago Bulls locked the Bucks into the top seed in the East and ensured Milwaukee of the best record in the NBA.
No. 2 seed: Boston Celtics
Wednesday night’s win against the Toronto Raptors locked the Celtics into the second seed in the East.
No. 3 seed: Philadelphia 76ers
Philadelphia is locked into the third seed and will play the Brooklyn Nets in the first round.
No. 6 seed: Brooklyn Nets
Brooklyn’s win over Orlando locked the Nets into the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference and a first round matchup with Philadelphia.
No. 7 seed: Miami Heat
Miami’s loss to Washington Friday means the Heat will host the Atlanta Hawks in the 7-8 game Tuesday night.
No. 8 seed: Atlanta Hawks
Toronto’s loss to Boston Friday means the Hawks will travel to Miami for the 7-8 game Tuesday night.
No. 9 seed: Toronto Raptors
Toronto’s loss to Boston Friday means the Raptors will host the Bulls in the 9-10 game Wednesday night.
No. 10 seed: Chicago Bulls
Chicago is locked into the 10th seed and will travel to Toronto to face the Raptors in the 9-10 game Wednesday night.
No. 1 seed: Denver Nuggets
Denver is locked into the top seed in the West after Memphis lost to New Orleans on Wednesday night.
No. 2 seed: Memphis Grizzlies
With their win over the Milwaukee Bucks Friday night, the Grizzlies have locked up the second seed in the West.
No. 3 seed: Sacramento Kings
Memphis beating Milwaukee Friday night locked Sacramento into the third seed in the West.
No. 4 seed: Phoenix Suns
Phoenix is locked into the fourth seed in the West.
No. 5 seed: Golden State Warriors
The Warriors moved into fifth in the West by beating the Sacramento Kings Friday night. With a win over the tanking Portland Trail Blazers Sunday, Golden State will guarantee finishing no lower than sixth. A win and a Clippers win over Phoenix will see Golden State finish sixth; a win and a Clippers loss will see Golden State finish fifth.
The Warriors will lose tiebreakers to either the New Orleans Pelicans or Los Angeles Lakers, so a loss to Portland would push Golden State into the play-in if either the Pelicans or Lakers win their final game.
No. 6 seed: LA Clippers
The Clippers are now a half-game behind Golden State heading into their final two games of the season: at home against Portland Saturday before going to Phoenix Sunday. Wins in both games will put the Clippers in fifth in the West. The Clippers win tiebreakers with Golden State and the Lakers, and loses one with the Pelicans.
No. 7 seed: Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers are in seventh after beating Phoenix, as they hold the tiebreaker over the Pelicans thanks to winning the season series. But to move into the top six, and avoid the play-in, the Lakers will need help.
Specifically, the Lakers will need to beat the Utah Jazz Sunday, and need the Warriors to lose in Portland to the tanking Trail Blazers, or the Lakers will need the Clippers to lose both to Portland Saturday and Phoenix Sunday.
One more Clipper win coupled with a Warriors win Sunday would mean the Lakers can finish no higher than seventh.
The Lakers lose a head-to-head tiebreaker with the Clippers, and win it with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
In a three-way tie at 42 wins with New Orleans and Minnesota, the Lakers would finish second. In a four-way tie with the Clippers, Pelicans and Wolves at 42 wins, the Lakers would finish last — behind the Wolves, Pelicans and Clippers, in that order.
In a three-way tie at 43 wins with New Orleans and the Clippers, the Lakers would finish third behind the Pelicans and Clippers, in that order. In a four-way tie at 43 wins with the Pelicans, Clippers and Warriors, the Lakers would finish third — behind the Pelicans and Clippers, but ahead of the Warriors.
No. 8 seed: New Orleans Pelicans
Due to losing the season series with the Lakers, the Pelicans currently sit in eighth. If New Orleans beats the Minnesota Timberwolves Sunday, they can jump to as high as fifth in the playoff picture, depending on how other games play out. If Minnesota wins its final two games, however — against San Antonio Saturday and then the Pelicans Sunday — then New Orleans will host the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 9-10 game Wednesday night.
No. 9 seed: Minnesota Timberwolves
If Minnesota wins Saturday in San Antonio, it sets up a winner-take-all game for a top-eight seed in the West between the Timberwolves and Pelicans on Sunday afternoon. Minnesota wins a tiebreaker with the Lakers, and would finish seventh in a three-way tie with the Lakers and Pelicans. Minnesota cannot finish lower than ninth.
No. 10 seed: Oklahoma City Thunder
Dallas losing to Chicago tonight clinches the 10th seed for the Thunder, who will travel to New Orleans, Minnesota or Los Angeles for the 9-10 game Wednesday night.
— Tim Bontemps
The Boston Celtics are the defending Eastern Conference champions.
Through games played Friday, the Eastern playoff seeds are set. Milwaukee Bucks, Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers, Cleveland Cavaliers, New York Knicks and the Brooklyn Nets have clinched a playoff berth and have locked in the top six seeds in the East. The Toronto Raptors, Atlanta Hawks, Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat are guaranteed a spot in the play-in tournament.
The first-round playoff matchups are:
1. Bucks vs. 8. Play-in winner
2. Celtics vs. 7. Play-in winner
3. 76ers vs. 6. Nets
4. Cavaliers vs. 5. Knicks
Play-in: 7. Heat vs. 8. Hawks
Play-in: 9. Raptors vs. 10. Bulls
Knicks clinch playoff berth with win over Wizards
The Knicks grab a 118-109 win over the Wizards to seal their spot in the playoffs.
The Golden State Warriors are the defending Western Conference champions.
Through games played Friday, the Denver Nuggets, Memphis Grizzlies, Sacramento Kings and Phoenix Suns have clinched a playoff berth.
The Nuggets are the top seed in the West. The Lakers and Pelicans have clinched spots in the play-in but can still reach the top six.
As of Friday, the first-round playoff matchups would be:
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