Here Is Every Team’s Clinching Scenario For The NBA In-Season Tournament

The NBA’s inaugural In-Season Tournament will see the Group Stage come to an end on Tuesday night. We have two teams — the Pacers and Lakers — that have punched their tickets to the knockout rounds. There are 11 teams have been officially eliminated (with about five others effectively eliminated barring something truly chaotic), meaning just about half of the league has something to play for on Tuesday night.

The paths for each team still alive range from simple “win and in” to Pepe Silvia levels of crazy, but here we’re going to try and trace each one

East Group A

Indiana Pacers: 4-0 (+39)
Cleveland Cavaliers: 2-1 (+6)
Philadelphia 76ers: 2-2 (+9)
Atlanta Hawks: 1-2 (-9)
Detroit Pistons: 0-4 (-45)

Pacers clinched. Cavs alive for the Wildcard. Sixers and Hawks not officially dead, but need a lot of help for the Wildcard (explained below).

East Group B

Milwaukee Bucks: 3-0 (+39)
New York Knicks: 2-1 (+19)
Miami Heat: 2-1 (+11)
Charlotte Hornets: 1-2 (-30)
Washington Wizards: 0-4 (-38)

Clinching scenarios for the Group:
Bucks: Win OR Lose, NYK win, and win point differential tiebreaker over MIA/NYK
Heat: Win and NYK loss OR Win, NYK win, and win point differential tiebreaker over MIL/NYK
Knicks: Win, MIA win, and win point differential tiebreaker over MIL/MIA

Hornets not technically eliminated from the Wildcard but would need to beat New York by 40 and get a ton of help. So, yeah.

East Group C

Orlando Magic: 3-1 (+22)
Boston Celtics: 2-1 (0)
Brooklyn Nets: 2-1 (+9)
Toronto Raptors: 1-2 (-9)
Chicago Bulls: 0-3 (-21)

Clinching scenarios for the Group:
Celtics: Win, BKN win, and win point differential tiebreaker over BKN/ORL
Nets: Win and BOS loss OR Win and win point differential tiebreaker over BOS/ORL
Magic: BKN loss OR BKN and BOS wins and win point differential tiebreaker over BOS/BKN

Raptors not technically eliminated from the Wildcard but need at minimum a 19-point win over the Nets and a lot of help.

East Wildcard

The East Wildcard chase is a mess, as 10 teams are mathematically alive, but it would take something truly incredible for 2-2 to end up winning the Wildcard. The Nets, Knicks, Celtics, Heat, and Cavaliers would all have to lose to bring the 2-2 teams into play. If that were to happen, it would almost assuredly mean the Knicks (+18) would take it unless they lose by 10, in which the Sixers (+9) would take it (unless Miami (+11) lost by one or two). Boston (+0), Cleveland (+6), and Brooklyn (+8) are all eliminated from the Wildcard with a loss because Philly has already finished their group stage with a +9 differential.

If we remove the 2-2 scenario from play and assume at least one of those five teams wins, then it will be between the potential 3-1 teams for the Wildcard. Milwaukee (+39) is a near lock for the Wildcard so long as they can keep the game with the Jimmy Butler-less Heat inside single digits. Orlando (+22) is the baseline all of the 3-1 hopefuls would have to get to if the Nets win their game and take the group. Boston (+0) would need a huge win to get in the mix, but that’s possible against the Bulls, while New York (+18) could also get a blowout against the Hornets and leapfrog everyone.

All of that is to say, the Nets, Knicks, Celtics, Heat, Cavs, Bucks, and Magic are all very much alive for the Wildcard and need to be at 3-1 and have the point differential tiebreaker to get the last spot in the knockout rounds.

West Group A

Los Angeles Lakers: 4-0 (+74)
Phoenix Suns: 3-1 (+34)
Utah Jazz: 2-2 (-13)
Portland Trail Blazers: 1-3 (-39)
Memphis Grizzlies: 0-4 (-56)

West Group B

New Orleans Pelicans: 3-1 (+33)
Houston Rockets: 2-1 (+16)
Denver Nuggets : 2-2 (-10)
Dallas Mavericks: 1-2 (-14)
Los Angeles Clippers: 1-3 (-23)

Clinching scenarios for the Group:
Rockets: Win
Pelicans: HOU loss

West Group C

Sacramento Kings: 3-0 (+29)
Minnesota Timberwolves: 2-1 (-3)
Golden State Warriors: 2-1 (+5)
Oklahoma City Thunder: 1-2 (+27)
San Antonio Spurs: 0-4 (-58)

Clinching scenarios for the Group:
Kings: Win OR Lose, MIN win, win point differential tiebreaker over GSW/MIN
Warriors: Win and MIN loss OR Win, MIN win, and win point differential tiebreaker over MIN/SAC
Timberwolves: Win, GSW win, and win point differential tiebreaker over GSW/SAC

West Wildcard

The West Wildcard hunt is pretty simple, the Suns are in the driver’s seat at 3-1 with a +34 differential.

One of the Rockets (+16), Warriors (+5), or Timberwolves (-3) would need to win on Tuesday and get their point differential above +34 to unseat them. The Pelicans (+33) and Kings (+29) cannot win the wildcard despite currently leading their group, because New Orleans is finished and the Kings would not improve their point differential with a loss.

Hopefully that clears up your rooting interests for Tuesday’s action and provides a bit of clarity about who actually has a shot at the knockout rounds.