With less than a week to go in the 2020-21 NBA season, there is still plenty of drama when it comes to playoff seeding and the new play-in tournament. With a number of tight races for seeding, each game means a lot and each night there will be teams with a chance to punch their ticket to the postseason.
Only seven teams have clinched playoff spots (a top-6 seed) so far, with Philadelphia, Brooklyn, and Milwaukee in the East and Utah, Phoenix, Los Angeles (Clippers), and Denver in the West. On Tuesday, there are four teams that can clinch playoff spots (and one that can be eliminated from the playoffs) depending on the various outcomes of Tuesday’s NBA action. In the East, the top 6 seeds could all be locked in on Tuesday, with the only drama being seeding within that range. In the West, a fifth team can lock themselves in with a win and some help.
Atlanta Hawks: Clinch a playoff spot with a Celtics LOSS and a Knicks WIN.
Miami Heat: Clinch a playoff spot with a WIN over Boston.
New York Knicks: Clinch a playoff spot with a WIN over the Lakers and a Celtics LOSS.
Dallas Mavericks: Clinch a playoff spot with a WIN over the Grizzlies and a Lakers LOSS.
Basically, if the Heat and Knicks win, the East playoff picture is known and the Celtics get locked into the play-in, add in a Dallas win to that formula and you have 11 of the 12 playoff positions taken, with seeding to be determined and the 6-seed in the West still a battle between Portland and the Lakers.
Other things that can be finalized on Tuesday include:
Philadelphia 76ers: Clinch the 1-seed in the East with a WIN over Indiana OR losses by both Brooklyn and Milwaukee.
Sacramento Kings: Eliminated from the play-in with a LOSS to the Thunder.
Beyond those battles, there are other very important games happening for seeding battles, starting with the East.
- Nets loss to Chicago and a Bucks win over Orlando would bring Milwaukee into the 2-seed by virtue of their tiebreaker with Brooklyn.
- Knicks loss would put them in a tie with the Hawks for the 4-seed, which they would still hold onto with their own tiebreaker.
- Knicks loss and a Miami win would create a three-way tie for 4th, with Atlanta taking the 4-seed in such a scenario by way of being the division leader (thanks to a head-to-head tiebreaker with the Heat).
- Knicks win and a Miami win would keep New York a full game ahead for the 4 and move Atlanta and Miami into a tie for 5th, with Atlanta holding the tiebreaker.
- Hornets loss and a Pacers win would move those two into a tie for 8th, with Charlotte holding the tiebreaker.
- Indiana loss would move them back into a tie with Washington for 9th, with the Wizards owning the tiebreaker.
In the West,
- Clippers loss and a Nuggets win would bring them into a tie for the 3-seed, with Denver owning the tiebreaker.
- Dallas loss would move them into a tie with Portland for the 5-seed, with the Blazers owning the tiebreaker.
- Warriors loss and a Grizzlies win would move Memphis back in front of the Warriors by a half game for the 8-seed