The playoffs are finally here. After a grueling, 82-game schedule, 16 teams are remaining, all of which hope to become champions. Of course, the postseason is a different beast, and every squad that made it is perpetually four losses away from packing up, heading home, and trying again next season. This got us thinking: What are the best and worst case scenarios for each team that made it to the playoffs?
Only one team can win the NBA title each year, so proceeding from the notion that hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy is obviously every team’s best-case scenario as they head into the postseason this weekend, we’ll do our best to try and dial back expectations from there and focus on more realistic goals. Unless, of course, the team actually can win a championship.
At the other end of the spectrum, getting swept out of the first round is clearly the least desirable outcome. Thankfully, there’s a lot of wiggle room in between. And for some teams, it’s important to set modest/achievable goals — for example, an eighth seed that just eked its way into the final playoff spot probably isn’t going to make a miraculous Finals run.
That’s why we’ve identified the ceiling and the floor for each of the 16 teams as the opening round kicks off Saturday, bearing in mind that at this time of year, just about anything can happen.