Most teams have just 10-12 games 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, 13 teams are locks or near-locks (>95% chance) to make the playoffs and nine teams have either been eliminated from playoff contention or do not have a realistic chance (<5%). That leaves eight teams battling for the final three spots, with two heavy favourites.
In the Eastern Conference five teams are still alive for the final two spots. However, the real battle appears to be between the Pacers, Celtics, and Hornets for the final spot as the Heat have a pretty firm grasp on one of the final two spots, with the Nets barely hanging on.
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 have separated themselves from the Pelicans and Suns.
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