As we pass the halfway point in the NBA season, we’re making our predictions for who will be which seed in the playoffs. At the time of this article, The current standings look like this:
Here are my predictions for seeding and first round matchups. In the Western Conference, the top two teams (Rockets and Warriors) are way out in front and are obviously going to stay the top two teams in that conference when playoff time comes. In the East, it’s a closer race, however the top three teams (Raptors, Celtics, and Cavs) are probably going to stay the same. You then have the Wizards, Pacers, Bucks, 76ers, Heat, and Pistons all competing for the 4th-8th spots.
According to teamrankings.com, the 76ers have the easiest schedule remaining in the East. This, in my opinion, will give them the 5 spot behind the Wizards and John Wall at 4. The Greek Freak and the Bucks will take the 6 seed, as Indiana has the hardest schedule in the NBA going forward. The Heat will rise to the 7 seed and the Pacers will round it out at 8. In the first round, the #1 seeded Raptors will take out the Pacers and the #2 Cavs will handle Dragic and Miami. This is where it gets interesting. I think there will be two upsets, with Milwaukee beating the third ranked Celtics and the Sixers taking down Washington. Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid will trump the Wizards in a 4-2 series victory.
In the stacked West, the two front runners are clearly Harden’s Rockets and the unstoppable Warriors. Unfortunately for Houston, the Warriors have the easiest schedule in the league going forward, and will probably secure the #1 seed in the West. The rest of the conference is pretty much neck and neck. Pop’s Spurs will end up taking the 3 spot (as they will for years to come), and then it’s a toss up. With Melo hurt, the Thunder are suffering. I don’t see them getting above a 6 seed this year, even with Russ and PG. In my opinion, the Wolves will take the 4 spot, and play Nikola Jokic’s Nuggets first round. Portland will stay at #7, and with Utah having the second easiest schedule remaining, I think the Jazz will edge out the Pelicans and Clippers for the final seed. In the first round, the Warriors will sweep Rudy Gobert and the Jazz. Houston will easily handle Dame D.O.L.L.A.’s Trail Blazers, and the Spurs will unfortunately take out Russ, another first round exit for him. The Wolves and Nuggets will be the only good matchup. I think Butler and K.A.T. have enough to edge out Denver in a 4-3 series victory.
(1) Toronto 4-1 (8) Indiana
(2) Cleveland 4-0 (7) Miami
(3) Boston 2-4 (6) Milwaukee
(4) Washington 2-4 (5) Philadelphia
(1) Golden State 4-0 (8) Utah
(2) Houston 4-1 (7) Portland
(3) Spurs 4-2 (6) Oklahoma City
(4) Minnesota 4-3 (5) Denver
Written by Erik Crichton (@erikcrichton on Twitter), contributor of @PHIToughSports.
Credit: teamrankings.com (stats)
Associated Press (cover photo)