Brace yourselves, basketball fans. The 2021 NBA playoffs are almost here.

There is an added level of intrigue this year with the league implementing a new version of the play-in tournament, which was first seen inside the Florida “bubble” amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of the traditional eight-team fields in each conference, a total of 20 teams will participate in the postseason.

MORE: Latest standings | Daily NBA schedule

With multiple contenders battling for playoff positioning, the final stretch of the regular season should provide plenty of entertainment. 

Here’s a snapshot of the current NBA playoff picture, including the full standings for each conference.

NBA standings 2021: Eastern Conference

Seed Team Record Games back
1. 76ers* 43-21
2. Nets* 43-22 0.5
3. Bucks* 40-24 3
4. Knicks 36-28 7
5. Hawks 35-30 8.5
6. Heat 35-30 8.5
7. Celtics 34-31 9.5
8. Hornets 31-33 12
9. Pacers 30-33 12.5
10. Wizards 29-35 14
Raptors 27-38 16.5
Bulls 26-38 17
Cavaliers 21-43 22
Magic 20-44 23
Pistons 19-45 24

*clinched playoff berth
Eliminated from playoff contention: Magic, Pistons

NBA standings 2021: Western Conference

Seed Team Record Games back
1. Suns* 46-18
2. Jazz* 46-18
3. Nuggets 43-21 3
4. Clippers* 43-22 3.5
5. Mavericks 36-28 10
6. Lakers 36-28 10
7. Trail Blazers 36-28 10
8. Grizzlies 32-31 13.5
9. Warriors 32-32 14
10. Spurs 31-32 14.5
Pelicans 29-35 17
Kings 27-37 19
Thunder 21-44 25.5
Timberwolves 20-45 26.5
Rockets 16-49 30.5

*clinched playoff berth
Eliminated from playoff contention: Rockets, Thunder, Timberwolves

How does the NBA play-in tournament work?

  • The play-in tournament will be held after the conclusion of the 2020-21 regular season and before the start of the first round of the 2021 NBA playoffs. The teams that finish Nos. 1-6 in the standings of each conference will be guaranteed playoff spots, and teams Nos. 7-10 will enter the play-in tournament.
  • The No. 7 team will face the No. 8 team, and the winner will earn the No. 7 seed in the playoffs. The loser will still have one more opportunity to reach the playoffs.
  • The No. 9 team will face the No. 10 team, and the winner will advance to play against the loser of the No. 7 vs. No. 8 game. The loser of the No. 9 vs. No. 10 game will be eliminated from playoff contention.
  • The loser from the No. 7 vs. No. 8 game and the winner from the No. 9 vs. No. 10 game will then play against each other. The winner of that game will be the No. 8 seed in the playoffs, and the loser will be eliminated from playoff contention.

NBA playoff picture: Seeding breakdowns

(Remaining strength of schedule via Tankathon and playoff probability via FiveThirtyEight)

Eastern Conference

1. 76ers

Remaining games: 8

Remaining strength of schedule: .380

Playoff probability: In

2. Nets

Remaining games: 7

Remaining strength of schedule: .499

Playoff probability: In

3. Bucks

Remaining games: 8

Remaining strength of schedule: .448

Playoff probability: In

4. Knicks

Remaining games: 8

Remaining strength of schedule: .578

Playoff probability: 93 percent

5. Hawks

Remaining games: 7

Remaining strength of schedule: .460

Playoff probability: 99 percent

6. Heat

Remaining games: 7

Remaining strength of schedule: .501

Playoff probability: 97 percent

7. Celtics

Remaining games: 7

Remaining strength of schedule: .428

Playoff probability: 97 percent

8. Hornets

Remaining games: 8

Remaining strength of schedule: .478

Playoff probability: 47 percent

9. Pacers

Remaining games: 9

Remaining strength of schedule: .497

Playoff probability: 43 percent

10. Wizards

Remaining games: 8

Remaining strength of schedule: .485

Playoff probability: 14 percent

Western Conference

1. Suns

Remaining games: 8

Remaining strength of schedule: .505

Playoff probability: In

2. Jazz

Remaining games: 8

Remaining strength of schedule: .463

Playoff probability: In

3. Nuggets

Remaining games: 8

Remaining strength of schedule: .519

Playoff probability: 99 percent

4. Clippers

Remaining games: 7

Remaining strength of schedule: .429

Playoff probability: In

5. Mavericks

Remaining games: 8

Remaining strength of schedule: .443

Playoff probability: 97 percent

6. Lakers

Remaining games: 8

Remaining strength of schedule: .544

Playoff probability: 98 percent

7. Trail Blazers

Remaining games: 8

Remaining strength of schedule: .534

Playoff probability: 97 percent

8. Grizzlies

Remaining games: 9

Remaining strength of schedule: .438

Playoff probability: 46 percent

9. Warriors

Remaining games: 8

Remaining strength of schedule: .493

Playoff probability: 46 percent

10. Spurs

Remaining games: 9

Remaining strength of schedule: .634

Playoff probability: 7 percent

SHARE