The biggest question going into the final regular season games is who’s in and who’s out? The Eastern Conference has three teams in the running for the 7th and 8th seeds. While in the Western Conference, six teams are gunning for one spot with a second team looking to force a play-in tournament. Below, I’ll go through each “bubble team” in the NBA Bubble and offer predictions on where they will end up once the regular season concludes. Before we get into it though, let’s take a look at the rules for this unique postseason:
If the team with the eighth-best record in its conference is more than four games ahead of the team with the ninth-best record in the same conference, no play-in tournament will be necessary. The final playoff berth will simply go to the team with the eighth best record (regular-season games + seeding games).
But if the team with the eighth-best record in its conference is four games or fewer ahead of the team with the ninth-best record in the same conference, then we’ll have a battle for the final spot between those two teams.
The tournament will basically be a best-of-two series — where the No. 9 seed will have to win two head-to-head matchups to take over the No. 8 spot.– via NBA.com
Now, let’s look at the teams in the running and where they currently stand as of August 7th:
7. Brooklyn Nets (33-36)
8. Orlando Magic (32-38)
9. Washington Wizards (24-45), 8.5 games back
8. Memphis Grizzlies (33-37)
9. Portland Trailblazers (32-38), 1 game back
10. San Antonio Spurs (30-38), 2 games back
11. New Orleans Pelicans (30-39), 2.5 games back
12. Phoenix Suns (30-39), 2.5 games back
13. Sacramento Kings (29-40), 3.5 games back
We’ll start with the Eastern Conference…