NBA standings: Seeding scenarios, breakdown for final spots in 2021 playoffs



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* 49-23
2. Nets* 48-24 1
3. Bucks* 46-26 3
4. Knicks* 41-31 8
5. Hawks* 41-31 8
6. Heat* 40-32 9
7. Celtics** 36-36 13
8. Wizards** 34-38 15
9. Pacers** 34-38 15
10. Hornets** 33-39 16
Bulls 31-41 18
Raptors 27-45 22
Cavaliers 22-50 27
Magic 21-51 28
Pistons 20-52 29

*clinched playoff berth
**clinched play-in berth
Eliminated from playoff contention: Bulls, Cavaliers, Magic, Pistons, Raptors

NBA standings 2021: Western Conference

Seed Team Record Games back
1. Jazz* 52-20
2. Suns* 51-21 1
3. Nuggets* 47-25 5
4. Clippers* 47-25 5
5. Mavericks* 42-30 10
6. Trail Blazers* 42-30 10
7. Lakers** 42-30 10
8. Warriors** 39-33 13
9. Grizzlies** 38-34 14
10. Spurs** 33-39 19
Pelicans 31-41 21
Kings 31-41 21
Timberwolves 23-49 29
Thunder 22-50 30
Rockets 17-55 35

*clinched playoff berth
**clinched play-in berth

Eliminated from playoff contention: Kings, Pelicans, 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. Teams Nos. 7-10 will enter the play-in tournament.
  • Each conference’s Nos. 7 and 8 teams will face off, with the winner earning the No. 7 seed in the playoffs. The loser will still have one more opportunity to reach the playoffs.
  • Each conference’s Nos. 9 and 10 teams will face off, with the winner advancing to play 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 of the No. 7-vs.-No. 8 game and the winner of 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. The loser will be eliminated from playoff contention.
  • Beyond the play-in tournament, the 2021 NBA playoffs will follow the typical format, with full best-of-seven series all the way through the NBA Finals.

NBA playoff picture: Seeding breakdowns

Eastern Conference

1. 76ers
2. Nets
3. Bucks

4. Knicks
5. Hawks
6. Heat

———————————
7. Celtics
8. Wizards
9. Pacers
10. Hornets

Western Conference

1. Jazz
2. Suns
3. Nuggets
4. Clippers
5. Mavericks
6. Trail Blazers

—————————
7. Lakers
8. Warriors
9. Grizzlies
10. Spurs





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