2022 NBA playoff picture: Mavericks clinch top-four seed; Celtics vs. Bucks for No. 2 seed on Thursday

The Brooklyn Nets rallied past the New York Knicks on Wednesday and continue to control their own destiny for the No. 7 seed. The Nets trail the Cleveland Cavaliers, the current No. 7 seed, by one game and they play each other on Friday. If Brooklyn wins, it would also secure the tiebreaker.

Also in the East, the 2-seed Boston Celtics hit the 50-win mark and remain tied in the loss column with No. 3 Milwaukee and No. 4 Philadelphia. The Celtics play the Bucks on Thursday in a game that will go a long way in sussing out this three-team logjam.

We’re going to be keeping close tabs on the playoff race with daily updates the rest of the way. Below is where things stand entering play on Thursday, April 7.

NOTE: Our SportsLine model, developed by predictive data engineer Stephen Oh, simulates the entire season 10,000 times and is constantly updating to reflect changing circumstances to produce the most unbiased and precise projections imaginable

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Phoenix has clinched the No. 1 overall seed.

  • Current first-round matchup: TBD (play-in results)

The Grizzlies have clinched the No. 2 seed.

The Warriors remain one game up on No. 4 Dallas in the loss column with three to play. Golden State has clinched a top-four seed.

  • Projected seeds: 3
  • Current first-round matchup: nuggets
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 4 Mavericks: Dallas has clinched with 3-1 head-to-head advantage

4. Dallas Mavericks

The Mavericks clinched a top-four seed with their win over Detroit on Wednesday. Dallas is one game back of No. 3 Golden State in the loss column with two to play, and Dallas has the tiebreaker.

  • Projected seeds: 4
  • Current first-round matchup: Jazz
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 3 Warriors: Dallas has clinched with a 3-1 head-to-head advantage

5. Utah Jazz

The Jazz clinched a top-six seed with their win over Memphis on Tuesday. They are one game up on No. 6 Denver in the loss column with three to play.

  • Projected seeds: 6
  • Current first-round matchup: Mavericks
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 6 Nuggets: Jazz have clinched with a 4-0 head-to-head advantage

6. Denver Nuggets

The Nuggets fell to the Spurs on Tuesday and are now one game back of the No. 5 Jazz in the loss column with two to play, and the Jazz have the tiebreaker. The Nuggets could fall into the play-in if they lose their final two games and Minnesota wins its final two as the Wolves have the tiebreaker.

  • Projected seeds: 5
  • Current play-in matchup: Warriors
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 5 Jazz: Utah has clinched with 4-0 head-to-head advantage
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 7 Timberwolves: Timberwolves have clinched via 3-1 head-to-head advantage

CURRENT PLAY-IN TEAMS

7. Minnesota Timberwolves

The Timberwolves still have a glimmer of hope alive for a top-six seed. Minnesota trails the Nuggets by two games with two to play and the Wolves control the tiebreaker. They need to finish 2-0 and have the Nuggets finish 0-2.

  • Projected seeds: 7
  • Current play-in matchup: Clippers
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 6 Nuggets: Timberwolves have clinched via 2-1 head-to-head advantage

8. Los Angeles Clippers

The Clippers are locked into the No. 8 seed.

  • Projected seeds: 8
  • Current play-in matchup: timber wolves
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 9 Pelicans: New Orleans has clinched with 3-0 head-to-head advantage

9. New Orleans Pelicans

New Orleans leads the No. 10 Spurs by just one game in the loss column with three to play, and the Spurs have the tiebreaker. New Orleans cannot finish any higher than the No. 9 seed.

  • Projected seeds: 9
  • Current play-in matchup: Spurs
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 10 Spurs: San Antonio has clinched via 3-1 head-to-head advantage

10. San Antonio Spurs

The Spurs clinched a play-in berth on Tuesday with their win over the Nuggets and the Lakers loss to Phoenix. San Antonio can still catch the No. 9 Pelicans, whom they trail by one game in the loss column with three left and the tiebreaker in hand. The Spurs can’t finish any higher than the No. 9 seed.

  • Projected seeds: 10
  • Current play-in matchup: Pelicans
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 9 Pelicans: San Antonio has clinched via 3-1 head-to-head advantage

EASTERN CONFERENCE

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The Heat have a magic number of one to seal the No. 1 seed, with a three-game lead against Boston and Milwaukee and three games to play. The No. 4 Sixers cannot pass Miami, which has sealed that tiebreaker as either a division winner or with a better conference record.

  • Projected seeds: 1
  • Current first-round matchup: TBD (play-in results)
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 2 Boston: Celtics have clinched via a 2-1 head-to-head advantage
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 3 Milwaukee: Heat currently own via conference record (season series 2-2, both teams leading division)

The Celtics beat Chicago for their 50th win of the year on Wednesday. The Celtics would need to win their final two games and have Miami lose its final two games for Boston to claim the No. 1 seed. The Celtics are in a three-way tie with the No. 3 Bucks and No. 4 Sixers in the loss column.

If it ends in a three-way tie, Milwaukee would currently have the edge with a 4-2 combined record against the Celtics and Sixers. Boston would land at No. 3 with a 4-3 record against the Bucks and Sixers, and the Sixers would end up No. 4 with a 3-4 record against the Bucks and Celtics.

BUT, Milwaukee and Boston still have one game left on Thursday, so that will obviously impact these records. So stay tuned.

  • Projected seeds: 2
  • Current first-round matchup: Cavs vs. Nets play-in winner
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 1 Miami: Celtics have clinched via 2-0 head-to-head advantage with one matchup left
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 2 Milwaukee: Celtics lead season series 2-1 with one game remaining
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 4 Philadelphia: Celtics currently own with better Atlantic division record (head-to-head tied 2-2)
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 5 Toronto: Boston currently owns as Atlantic division leader

With three to play, the Bucks are tied with the No. 2 Celtics and No. 4 Sixers in the loss column; they still have one game vs. Boston left in a game that could seal the tiebreaker for Boston.

If it ends in a three-way tie between the Bucks, Celtics and Sixers, Milwaukee would currently have the edge with a 4-2 combined record against the Celtics and Sixers. Boston would land at No. 3 with a 4-3 record against the Bucks and Sixers, and the Sixers would end up No. 4 with a 3-4 record against the Bucks and Celtics. But as stated above, Milwaukee and Boston still have one game left on Thursday, so that will obviously impact these records. So stay tuned.

  • Projected seeds: 3
  • Current first-round matchup: Bulls
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 1 Miami: Miami currently owns via conference record (season series 2-2, both teams leading division)
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 3 Boston: Bucks trail season series 2-1 with one game remaining
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 4 Philadelphia: Bucks have clinched via 2-1 head-to-head advantage
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 5 Toronto: Raptors have clinched via 3-0 head-to-head advantage

The Sixers are tied in the loss column with the No. 2 Celtics and No. 3 Bucks. If it ends up in a three-way tie between the Celtics, Bucks and Sixers, the Sixers would end up as the No. 4 seed no matter who wins the game between Milwaukee and Boston on Thursday because they are only 3-4 against those two teams, and Boston and Milwaukee cannot dip to that low of a win percentage among the three teams involved.

If the Sixers and Celtics finished tied, being that they’re both in the Atlantic Division and the season series is tied 2-2, the next tiebreaker would be division record, which Boston has cinched (9-7 vs. 6-9 for Philly).

  • Projected seeds: 4
  • Current first-round matchup: Raptors
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 1 Miami: Miami currently owns via conference record (season series tied 2-2, both teams leading division)
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 2 Boston: Boston has clinched via Atlantic division record
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 3 Milwaukee: Bucks have clinched via 2-1 head-to-head advantage
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 5 Toronto: Raptors lead season series 2-1 with one head-to-head remaining

5.Toronto Raptors

The Raptors clinched a playoff spot with their win over the Hawks on Tuesday. Toronto is two games up on the No. 6 Bulls with three games left (Chicago owns tiebreaker).

  • Projected seeds: 5
  • Current play-in matchup: 76ers
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 2 Boston: Celtics currently own as Atlantic division leader
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 3 Milwaukee: Raptors have clinched via 3-0 head-to-head advantage
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 4 Philadelphia: Raptors lead season series 2-1 with one head-to-head remaining
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 6 Chicago: Chicago has clinched the tiebreaker via 3-1 head-to-head advantage

6.Chicago Bulls

The Bulls lost to Boston on Wednesday to fall two games back of No. 5 Toronto in the loss column with two to play. The Bulls have clinched a playoff spot and cannot rise above the No. 5 seed.

  • Projected seeds: 6
  • Current first-round matchup: Bucks
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 5 Toronto: Chicago has clinched the tiebreaker via 3-1 head-to-head advantage

CURRENT PLAY-IN TEAMS

The Cavaliers lost to Orlando on Tuesday and are just one game up on No. 8 Brooklyn and No. 9 Atlanta with two to play. One of those games is Friday against the Nets, who would pass Cleveland with a head-to-head victory that would also seal the tiebreaker for Brooklyn. Atlanta also owns the tiebreaker over Cleveland. The Cavs cannot rise into the top six.

  • Projected seeds: 8
  • Current first-round matchup: net
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 8 Brooklyn: Nets lead season series 2-1 with one matchup remaining
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 9 Atlanta: Hawks have clinched via 3-1 head-to-head advantage
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 10 Charlotte: Cleveland currently owns via conference record (season series tied 2-2)

8. Brooklyn Nets

The Nets rallied to beat the Knicks on Wednesday to remain in the No. 8 spot. The Nets are tied with the No. 9 Hawks but have sealed the tiebreaker. Each team has two games left. Brooklyn is one back of No. 7 Cleveland, which it plays on Friday, If they win that game, they would seal the tiebreaker over Cleveland, meaning the Nets control their own destiny for the No. 7 seed.

  • Projected seeds: 7
  • Current play-in matchup: Hornets
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 7 Cleveland: Nets lead season series 2-1 with one matchup remaining
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 9 Atlanta: Nets have clinched via 2-1 head-to-head advantage
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 10 Charlotte: Hornets have clinched via 2-1 head-to-head advantage

The Hawks defeated the Wizards on Wednesday and remain tied with the No. 8 Nets (Brooklyn owns tiebreaker). Each team has two games remaining. The Hawks lead the No. 10 Hornets by one game and currently own the tiebreaker via conference win percentage, but that is far from decided (each team has 25 conference losses at the moment; Charlotte has three Eastern Conference games remaining and the Hawks have one ).

  • Projected seeds: 9
  • Current play-in matchup: Cavs
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 8 Brooklyn: Nets have clinched via 2-1 head-to-head advantage
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 10 Charlotte: Atlanta currently owns via conference win percentage

The Hornets are one back of the No. 9 Hawks and No. 8 Nets. Charlotte has clinched the tiebreaker over Brooklyn and could still earn the tiebreaker over Atlanta via conference record (each team has 25 conference losses at the moment; Charlotte has three Eastern Conference games remaining and the Hawks have two).

  • Projected seeds: 10
  • Current play-in matchup: net
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 7 Cleveland: Cavs currently own via conference record (season series tied 2-2)
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 8 Brooklyn: Hornets have clinched via 2-1 head-to-head advantage
  • Tiebreaker vs. No. 9 Atlanta: Hornets currently own via conference record (season series tied 2-2)

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