NBA Playoff Picture: NBA Playoff Bracket if Season Ended Today

Anthony Edwards, Minnesota Timberwolves (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
Anthony Edwards, Minnesota Timberwolves (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /

If the NBA Playoffs started today, the Minnesota Timberwolves would be in, but they would not be in the most ideal scenario. Currently in the midst of a three-game losing streak, the Wolves find themselves teetering on the edge of falling out of the playoffs and play-in tournament entirely.

However, there is reason to believe Minnesota can improve their situation. With just 2.5 games separating them from fourth place in the Western Conference, there is still a world in which they avoid the play-in tournament and finish as a top six seed.

There is much work to be done to make that possibility a reality, however. As the schedule grows more challenging for the Timberwolves, here is what the playoff bracket would look like if the NBA regular season ended today.

NBA playoff picture: Eastern Conference

  1. Milwaukee Bucks
  2. Boston Celtics
  3. Philadelphia 76ers
  4. Cleveland Cavaliers
  5. New York Knicks
  6. Brooklyn Nets
  7. Miami Heat
  8. Atlanta Hawks
  9. Toronto Raptors
  10. Washington Wizards

If the season ended today, the Bucks would hold home court advantage throughout the NBA playoffs after leapfrogging the Celtics on Monday night. In the East, the four teams duking it out for the final two playoff spots in the play-in would be the the Heat, Hawks, Raptors, and Wizards.

The first round playoff matchups would be:

  • No. 1 Milwaukee Bucks vs. No. 7 Miami Heat/No. 8 Atlanta Hawks
  • No. 2 Boston Celtics vs. No. 7 Heat/No. 8 Hawks/No. 9 Raptors/No. 10 Wizards
  • No. 3 Philadelphia 76ers vs. No. 6 Brooklyn Nets
  • No. 4 Cleveland Cavaliers vs. No. 5 New York Knicks

The top four seeds in the East would likely feel extremely confident with their matchups. Even after moving down to the second seed, the Celtics are far too deep to be challenged by the likes of any of the seven-through-ten seeds in the East. The only first round matchup that may be close here would be Cleveland and New York.

NBA playoff picture: Western Conference

  1. Denver Nuggets
  2. Memphis Grizzlies
  3. Sacramento Kings
  4. Phoenix Suns
  5. Los Angeles Clippers
  6. Dallas Mavericks
  7. Golden State Warriors
  8. Utah Jazz
  9. Minnesota Timberwolves
  10. New Orleans Pelicans

With Kevin Durant making his Suns debut this week, Phoenix is poised to climb in the standings. But if the season ended today, they would barely hold home court in the first round of the playoffs. Meanwhile, Sacramento would earn their first top-three seed since the 2002-03 season. The four play-in teams in the West would be the Warriors, Jazz, Timberwolves, and Pelicans.

The first round playoff matchups would be:

  • No. 1 Denver Nuggets vs. No. 7 Golden State Warriors/No. 8 Utah Jazz
  • No. 2 Memphis Grizzlies vs. No. 7 Warriors/No. 8 Jazz/No. 9 Timberwolves/No. 10 Pelicans
  • No. 3 Sacramento Kings vs. No. 6 Dallas Mavericks
  • No. 4 Phoenix Suns vs. No. 5 Los Angeles Clippers

The West feels like far more of a free-for-all than the East. While one of the top three seeds seems near guaranteed to make the Finals from the East, no one team in the Western Conference appears to be a sure bet.

The Timberwolves would be hosting the Pelicans for their first play-in game, needing to win that matchup as well as beat the loser of Warriors/Jazz for the right to earn the eight seed and play the Nuggets in the first round. Considering all that has happened between Minnesota and Utah since last summer, a single-elimination game between the Wolves and Jazz would be extremely entertaining.

Several other matchups in this bracket jump off the page as well. Assuming Golden State wins the play-in game with Utah, they would be matched up with Denver in a first round series that could get very interesting. And a series between the Suns and Clippers would mean pitting Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard against one another for potentially seven games in a row.

With a mere three games separating the fourth seed and eleventh seed in the West, we are headed for a photo finish in the regular season.

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