NBA playoffs 2018: Odds, predictions as East, West teams fight for positioning
There are only two weeks left in the 2017-18 NBA regular season. Five teams from the Eastern Conference (Raptors, Celtics, Cavs, 76ers and Pacers) and two teams from the Western Conference (Rockets and Warriors) have already secured postseason berths, but nine openings remain. What are the probabilities for contending teams to take the final playoff spots? AccuScore has simulated every game left on the this season schedule to find out. The table below shows probabilities to get into the playoffs and week-to-week changes.
AccuScore’s odds to make NBA playoffs
Probability vs. weekly % change
NOTE: The Nets, Magic, Hawks, Mavericks, Kings, Suns, Grizzlies, Knicks, Bulls and Lakers have already been officially eliminated from playoffs. For the Pistons and Hornets, it would require more than miracle to make playoffs, as their chances are down to one percent based on simulations.
Eastern Conference playoff picture
There is not much left to predict in the Eastern Conference. The Heat have improved their chances to reach the playoffs the most (14.9 percent increase) since the previous round of simulations. The Heat hold a five-game lead over the Pistons with eight games left on the schedule, and five of those games are against teams already eliminated from playoff contention. Miami is essentially a playoff lock.
The Heat’s relatively easy schedule down the stretch paired with the Wizards’ recent struggles has made the battle for the Southeast Division much more interesting. Miami’s probability for a division title is 58 percent, while Washington’s number is down to 42 percent.
With the Raptors three games ahead of the Celtics at the top of the East, Toronto holds a 73 percent probability to take the Atlantic Division title and the No. 1 seed heading into the playoffs.
Western Conference playoff picture
The Western Conference playoff race is still tight. Since last week’s simulations, the Spurs have moved back into the playoff picture (as predicted) and improved their odds by more than five percent. The Thunder and Jazz are trending in a positive direction as well. Utah has gone 11-3 in March, but the Jazz have some tough opponents left (Celtics, Timberwolves, Warriors and Trail Blazers) before the regular season comes to a close.
The Nuggets are currently only two games behind the Jazz for the last playoff spot in the West. However, all of Denver’s remaining games are against playoff teams or teams in contention for postseason berths, while Minnesota has more favorable matchups against lottery teams like the Mavericks, Lakers and Grizzlies. The Nuggets and Timberwolves will meet twice next month, including the season finale on April 11.
The Trail Blazers have control of the Northwest Division, though the Thunder and Timberwolves still have small chances to move ahead of Portland. The Blazers will likely be the No. 3 seed behind the Rockets and Warriors when the playoffs start.