Friday, May 24, 2024

NBA playoffs: Tiebreaker, seed scenarios headed into final day of regular season

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Over the course of six months, 1,215 regular-season games have been played.

The final 15 regular-season games are Sunday (no games Saturday), and it’s going to be a fun one – 11 of the 15 games have playoff implications, including the top seed in the Western Conference where Oklahoma City, Minnesota and Denver are in a three-way tie for first place.

It is the first time in NBA history that three teams head into the final day of the regular season tied for a top seed.

The No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference remains unsettled between Milwaukee, New York and Cleveland, and there are 16 possible scenarios that will determine seed Nos. 5-8 in the East between Orlando, Indiana, Philadelphia and Miami.

The Los Angeles Lakers can solidify the No. 8 seed with a victory, but they can also fall to No. 10 with a loss.

Here are the NBA tiebreaker scenarios headed into the final day of the regular season, followed by Sunday’s schedule:

NBA Eastern Conference seeds and tiebreaker scenarios

No. 1 seed

It’s all Boston’s. The Celtics (63-18) ran away with conference, the only team to reach 60-plus victories.

Seeds 2-4

The No. 2 seed can go to Milwaukee (49-32), New York (49-32) or Cleveland (48-33). The Bucks own the tiebreaker over the Knicks based on head-to-head records. In a three-way tie, the Cavs get the No. 2 seed (because they win Central Division, and division winner is the first tie-breaker in a three-way tie), the Bucks would get the third seed and the Knicks the fourth. If New York and Cleveland win and Milwaukee loses Sunday, the Knicks are No. 2, Cavs No. 3 and Bucks No. 4. Put simply, if the Bucks win, they get the No. 2 seed, New York No. 3 and Cleveland No. 4. But with Milwaukee, simple hasn’t been part of its season.

Seeds 5-8

Here’s a wild one: Orlando (46-35), Indiana (46-35), Philadelphia (46-35) and Miami (45-36) could finish in a four-way tie, and Miami would get the No. 5 seed as the division winner, followed by sixth-seed Philadelphia, seventh-seed Indiana and eighth-seed Orlando.

All four teams could finish either fifth, sixth, seventh or eighth, invoking a series of head-spinning tiebreakers.

Here’s the best way to flush out the chaos:

≻ If Orlando, Indiana, Philadelphia win, regardless of what Miami does, it’s: No. 5 Orlando, No. 6 Indiana, No. 7 Philadelphia, No. 8 Miami.

≻ If Orlando, Indiana and Miami win and Philadelphia loses, it’s No. 5 Orlando, No. 6 Indiana, No. 7 Miami and No. 8 Philadelphia.

≻ If Orlando and Indiana win and Miami and Philadelphia lose, it’s No. 5 Orlando, No. 6 Indiana, No. 7 Philadelphi and No. 8 Miami.

≻ If Orlando and Philadelphia win, Indiana loses and regardless if Miami wins or loses, it’s No. 5 Philadelphia, No. 6 Orlando, No. 7 Indiana and No. 8 Miami.

≻ If Orlando and Miami win and Indiana and Philadelphia lose, it’s Orlando No. 5, Indiana No. 6, Miami No. 7 and Philadelphia No. 8.

≻ If Orlando wins and Indiana, Philadelphia and Miami loses, it’s Orlando No. 5, Indiana No. 6, Philadelphia No.7 and Miami No. 8.

≻ If Indiana, Philadelphia and Miami win and Orlando loses, it’s No. 5 Indiana, No. 6 Philadelphia, No. 7 Miami and No. 8 Orlando.

≻ If Indiana and Philadelphia win and Orlando and Miami lose, it’s No. 5 Indiana, No. 6 Philadelphia, No. 7 Orlando and No. 8 Miami.

≻ If Indiana and Miami win and Orlando and Philadelphia loses, it’s No. 5 Indiana, No. 6 Miami, No. 7 Philadelphia and No. 8 Orlando.

≻ If Indiana wins and Orlando, Philadelphia and Miami lose, it’s No. 5 Indiana, No. 6 Philadelphia, No. 7 Orlando and No. Miami.

≻ If Philadelphia and Miami win and Orlando and Indiana lose, it’s No. 5 Philadelphia, No. 6 Miami, No. 7 Orlando and No. 8 Indiana.

≻ If Philadelphia wins and Orlando, Indiana and Miami lose, it’s No. 5 Philadelphia, No. 6 Orlando, No. 7 Indiana and No. 8 Miami

≻ If Miami wins and Orlando, Indiana and Philadelphia lose, it’s No. 5 Miami, No. 6 Indiana, No. 7 Philadelphia and No. 8 Orlando.

≻ If Orlando, Indiana, Philadelphia and Miami lose, it’s No. 5 Orlando, No. 6 Indiana, No. 7 Philadelphia and No. 8 Miami.

Seeds 9-10

Chicago (39-42 )is No. 9 and Atlanta No. 10 (36-45). The winner of that play-in game will play the loser of the 7-8 game for the eight seed.

NBA Western Conference seeds, tiebreaker scenarios

1-2-3 seeds

If Oklahoma City, Minnesota and Denver (all at 56-25) win and it’s a three-way tie for first place, Oklahoma City wins the tiebreaker based on head-to-head won-lost percentage in games played between the three teams. Minnesota would get the No. 2 seed and Denver No. 3.

If it’s a two-way tie between the Thunder and Nuggets, the Thunder get the better seed based on head-to-head. In a two-way tie between Minnesota and Denver, the Timberwolves have the edge based on division record, and a tie between Minnesota and Oklahoma City goes to Minnesota based on the better conference record. The only way Denver can get the No. 1 see is if Oklahoma City and Minnesota lose.

4-5 seeds set in the West

If the Los Angeles Clippers (51-30) and Dallas (50-31) finish with identical records, the Clippers win the breaker based on a 2-1 head-to-head advantage. The Clippers will get the No. 4 seed and the Mavs have secured the No. 5 seed because even if they finish with the same record as New Orleans, they win the tiebreaker based on a better division record.

6-7 seeds

If New Orleans (49-32) beats the Los Angeles Lakers, it is the No. 6 seed. If the Pelicans lose and Phoenix (48-33_ wins, the Suns get the No. 6 seed based on a 2-1 edge in head-to-head games. If the Pelicans and Suns lose, the Pels will conclude with the better record and get the No. 6 spot. One of those teams will get the sixth seed and avoid the play-in tournament and one will get the seventh seed and host a play-in game against the No. 8 seed.

8-9-10 seeds

If the Lakers (46-35) beat New Orleans, they earn the eighth seed and will go on the road play either New Orleans or Phoenix in the 7 vs. 8 play-in tournament game.

It’s possible the Lakers, Sacramento (45-36) and Golden State (45-36) finish in a three-way tie. In that scenario, the Kings win the tiebreaker based on head-to-head won-lost percentage in games played between the three teams. Sacramento would get the eighth seed, Golden State the ninth and the Lakers the 10th.

In a two-way tie between the Kings and Lakers, the Kings emerge because they own a 4-0 lead in the season series, and in a two-way tie between the Lakers and Warriors, the Warriors get the better seed because of a 3-1 lead in the season series. If the Kings and Warriors both lose Sunday and finish 45-37, the Kings win the division won-lost tiebreaker.

Sunday’s NBA schedule

What are the NBA tiebreakers?

Tiebreakers when two teams are tied:

  1. Better winning percentage in games against each other
  2. Division winner (this criterion is applied regardless of whether the tied teams are in the same division)
  3. Better winning percentage against teams in own division (only if tied teams are in same division)
  4. Better winning percentage against teams in own conference
  5. Better winning percentage against teams eligible for the playoffs or the play-in tournament in own conference (including tied teams)
  6. Better winning percentage against teams eligible for the playoffs or the play-in tournament in opposite conference (including tied teams)
  7. Better net result of total points scored less total points allowed against all opponents (point differential)

Tiebreakers when three or more teams are tied

  1. Division winner (this criterion is applied regardless of whether the tied teams are in the same division)
  2. 2 Better winning percentage in games against each other
  3. Better winning percentage against teams in own division (only if tied teams are in same division)
  4. Better winning percentage against teams in own conference
  5. Better winning percentage against teams eligible for the playoffs or the play-in tournament in own conference (including tied teams)
  6. Better net result of total points scored less total points allowed against all opponents (point differential)

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