We have more than a month left in the NBA’s regular season, but 22 teams’ playoff hopes have already been decided and all that is left is shuffling for playoff seeding.
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, 21 still have a realistic shot (at least 5%) to make the playoffs. Of those teams, 13 are locks or near-locks (at least 95%) to make the playoffs with three spots still up for grabs.
Here is a look at the Eastern Conference where six teams are still alive for the final two spots. The Indiana Pacers have made the biggest move, jumping from just a 17.6% chance of making the playoffs four weeks ago. Meanwhile, the Miami Heat have seen their chances drop from 93.0% to just 36.7% during the same period.
The playoff race in the Western Conference is almost set with seven of the eight spots locked up or nearly so. The final spot will almost certainly go to the Oklahoma City Thunder who were at 53.5% a month ago.
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