Community Shootaround: Eastern Conference Seeding

Although the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference will still be up for grabs when the NBA’s eight “seeding” games begin on July 30, that race has lost much of its luster as a result of the injuries, COVID-19 cases, and opt-outs that have decimated the Nets‘ and Wizards‘ rosters.

Technically, the Magic (30-35) are the No. 8 seed at the moment, but they’re just a half-game back of Brooklyn (30-34) for the No. 7 spot and seem likely to pass a Nets team that will be without at least seven players, including Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Spencer Dinwiddie, and DeAndre Jordan.

That would leave the Nets to hang onto the No. 8 seed by holding off the Wizards (24-40), who will be missing Bradley Beal, Davis Bertans, and John Wall, but could force a play-in tournament if they finish within four games of Orlando or Brooklyn. Washington is also currently without Thomas Bryant (coronavirus), Gary Payton II (coronavirus), and Garrison Mathews (personal), though some or all of those players may eventually rejoin the team.

While that race for the seventh and eighth seeds may not be quite as dramatic as the NBA would like, there could still be some interesting jockeying for position further up the standings in the East.

The 53-12 Bucks have a 6.5-game cushion over the 46-18 Raptors, so Milwaukee will likely clinch the top seed even if they’re on cruise control during the seeding games. But Toronto’s lead on the third-seeded Celtics (43-21) is just three games, and Boston’s eight-game schedule looks less daunting than the Raptors’ slate.

Five of the Celtics’ eight games are against the Nets, Wizards, Magic, Grizzlies, and Trail Blazers, all of whom are at or near the bottom of the playoff race. The Raptors, meanwhile, will face Orlando and Memphis, but also have games against the Lakers, Heat, Nuggets, Sixers, and Bucks. The Celtics and Raptors face each other as well, in a game that will have important tiebreaker implications.

That No. 2 seed isn’t as important as it once was, given the lack of home court advantage available, but it could mean facing the Magic instead of the Pacers, which should be a more favorable matchup even with Victor Oladipo sidelined.

Speaking of the Pacers, they’re currently tied at 39-26 with the Sixers, with the No. 5 seed up for grabs. Clinching that fifth seed would likely mean securing a first-round matchup with the fourth-seeded Heat instead of the Celtics or Raptors.

The Heat, meanwhile, are 41-24, putting them two games behind Boston and two games ahead of the Sixers and Pacers. They seem like a relatively safe bet to hold their position in the No. 4 vs. 5 matchup, but a hot or cold streak in Orlando could affect their spot in the standings, especially with games vs. Boston, Toronto, and Indiana (twice) on tap.

What do you think? What do you expect the top eight spots in the Eastern Conference to look like by the time the playoffs begin? Will they look relatively similar to the current standings, or will there be some shuffling that results in some unexpected first-round matchups?

Head to the comment section below to weigh in with your thoughts!

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20 thoughts on “Community Shootaround: Eastern Conference Seeding

  1. The Heat are a safe bet to keep their position in the standings? Because you have determined what games are sure wins and which are losses and nothing can happen in eight games to change anything? I understand where the gap is large and nothing is likely to move the pendulum of change in eight games, but where there is a two game gap on either side? Is this a wilful loss of imagination?

    • Luke Adams

      I meant that I think they’re likely to stay in the 4/5 matchup (with no home court advantage, 4th or 5th doesn’t really matter), rather than fall to 6 or jump to 3 (given the Celtics’ soft schedule). Tweaked the wording to make my stance clearer, but you’re certainly right that anything could happen.

    • x%sure

      Imagination in predicting? I’ll put the odds on odds. Anything can be imagined.
      TV experts, when pressed, will close with “But look out for the (—)!”, countering having made a different prediction, which makes me cringe. Waste of airtime. They’re all in the NBA and can win.

      The Heat should do well if staying in shape matters, which it should. Also if Butler starts hitting, look out. Players in slumps could get a psycological boost in a restart.

  2. x%sure

    1)Bucks, 2)Raps, 3)Heat, 4)Sixers, 5)Celts, 6)Pacers, 7)Magic, 8)ran out of teams. Rui breaks out? The top 7 remaining on the Wizrds have a total PER of about 109, while the depleted Nets total is about 92, not including add-ons.
    The Magic will depend on Fultz, the Pacers Brogdon

      • x%sure

        Nugs are WC.
        What if a Beasley takes a month or twp out of his life to do things right?– whereas, if he is looking at a whole season, might think, what’s the use. But Dinwiddie is a disappointment. In a couple weeks, he will have forgotten about the headaches.

      • harden-westbrook-mvps

        Nuggets can do a lot better than the #8 seed.

        They should at worst be the #4 seed, in the West of course.

      • harden-westbrook-mvps

        The will probably stay ahead of Miami, but there’s absolutely no way that the Sixers will get the 4th seed ahead of Boston. Philly is 4.5 games behind the Celtics, no way are they picking up 5 games when they’re playing just 8.

  3. Chris_Favreau

    I personally want them to just scrap the season and start over next season, if that’s even possible. I feel like regardless of this season’s outcome, whichever team wins will have a big asterisk next to their name. Instead of potentially one season, we’ll now have two seasons worth of a truncated schedule…I say eff it at this point.

  4. Tazza

    1. Bucks 2. Raptors 3. Celtics 4. Heat 5. Sixers 6. Pacers 7. Magic 8. Nets

    which gives us
    Bucks vs Nets (Bucks 4-0)
    Raptors vs Magic (Raptors 4-0)
    Celtics vs Pacers (Celtics 4-1)
    Heat vs Sixers (Sixers 4-2)

    I have everything kinda staying the same except the Magic move ahead of the Nets due to Nets losing players and Sixers moving above the Pacers. I think the sixes are more playoff ready last year they were a last second corner three shot by Kawhi from making the ECF and then the finals. Sixers have on ball defenders in JRich Simmons Thybulle and have two good defensive bigs with Horford and Embiid. pacers missing Oladipo is huge. who is their go to player Brogdan who goes up against Simmons or Sabonis who goes up against Embiid.

    then the Heat vs Sixers match up. I also think the Sixers are starting to know how to manage minutes with everyone which will be huge. I think the Heat rely on youngsters a lot like Nunn, Herro, Robinson and Adebayo while the Sixers have some more experience. again match up wise Adebyo is smaller and will struggle on Embiid who will be well rested and want to prove himself. which leaves Butler plus shooters with some vets off the bench vs the Sixers who have size, experience and some good depth of its own. Sixers suck on the road so will struggle a bit and I can see Butler Iggy Dragic and Crowder giving them a hard time but ultimately I see them coming out in a close series.

    Bucks vs Sixers
    Raptors vs Celtics

    two great match ups I think could both be close games. Simmons Harris Embiid vs Giannis Middleton and Bledsloe.
    Kemba Tatum Brown and Hayward vs the reining champs Lowry Siakim Gasol Ibaka and FVV

    • bigpapi136

      I agree with what you have here except I think the heat and sixers matchup will go all 7 games and I think heat advance. Should be a lot of fun to watch!

  5. KnickerbockerAl

    I know Wizards are not making it. There is no home court. So this should help all favorites. But again staying healthy seems best way to advance. Play the games already.

  6. El Don

    MIL – TOR – BOS -MIA – IND – PHI – ORL – BRK
    I really hope PHI don’t try to go for the #5, they should just try to lose a few games to keep the #6 seed that way they have a much easier path tot he finals, as I believe they would have a very favorable match up with BOS in R1EC, then another favorable one with TOR in R2EC, then a very close final with MIL were anything can happen.
    If they get the #4-5 then still will be easy to get to the R2EC but then havin’ to face MIL then is just a very daunting task, much better to be avoided easily by not winning games in the seeding round.

    • Tazza

      I disagree, Celtics and Raptors both would be tough. both teams have great coaches, both have solid experienced point guards, have a young star and play good team defence.
      Sixers struggled against the Raptors this year with Gasol outperforming Embiid for long periods. As for the Celtics they attack through the 2/3 portions and that’s out weak point.

      id rather take on a young Heat team which relys on outside shooting and then the bucks. yes the bucks are the best team but Kawhi prove if you stop Giannis you can beat them. I like Horford Embiid Simmons against Giannis

      • x%sure

        Boston isn’t that solid at PG… depends on how Kemba wants to play it, and whether Smart can regain his touch and shape.

    • mheinken

      I’m pretty sure J0/11 Embiid would rather avoid Gasol again if he could.

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