We are a little more than halfway through the NBA’s regular season, but for two-thirds of the league’s teams, their playoff hopes have already been decided and all that is left is shuffling for playoff seeding or draft lottery ping pong balls.
Using a rating system that accounts for margin of victory, home-court advantage, strength of schedule, and prior performance, and then simulating the rest of the season thousands of times, Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight.com has determined the probability each team has of making the playoffs.
Of the NBA’s 30 teams, 22 still have a realistic shot (at least 5%) to make the playoffs. Of those teams, 12 are locks or near-locks (at least 95%) to make the playoffs with four spots still up for grabs.
Here is a look at the Eastern Conference where six teams are still alive for the final two spots and one of those spots will almost certainly go to the Miami Heat who are on the verge of breaking the 95% barrier.
The playoff race in the Western Conference is even more clear cut as just four teams are still alive for the final two spots.
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