One Game Left
Except for the Hawks. They have two.
Yesterday I wrote about the playoff outlook with two games left for the Bulls and determine which team I’d rather the Bulls play in the playoffs: the Cavs or the Celtics. I eventually settled on the Cavs, despite the fact that I could actually see the Bulls defeating the Celtics.
As of this writing, Boston’s odds of securing the one seed have increased to 85% and Cleveland’s have dropped to 15%.
The Bulls’ odds of securing a playoff spot have increased to 88%, tying them with the Pacers’ odds of making the playoffs as well. Conversely, the Heat’s odds have plunged to 24%.
In order for the Heat to make the playoffs, they need the Bulls to lose against the Nets tomorrow. Here are the important games:
Raptors (50–31) @ Cavs (51–30) Projection: 59% Cleveland
If Cavs win: They get the one seed if Boston loses, two seed if Boston wins. Toronto gets the three seed.
If Raptors win: Finish the season tied with Cavs, but slot in at three because the Cavs own the tiebreaker. Cavs’ outcome depends on whether Boston wins or loses. If Boston wins, then the Cavs are the two. If Boston loses, Cavs get the top seed.
Bucks (42–39) @ Celtics (52–29) Projection: 73% Boston
If Bucks win: They secure six seed, but if Atlanta loses their final two games, Milwaukee would hop into the five seed. If Atlanta wins one game and ties Milwaukee, then Atlanta gets the five because they own the tiebreaker. Boston’s outcomes are outlined above. Either one or two seed.
If Celtics win: Secure one seed. Bucks drop to six seed.
Hawks (42–38) @ Pacers (41–40) Projection: 75% Indiana
If Hawks win: Depending on whether or not they lose the game on Tuesday before this game, the highest Atlanta could get is the five seed. The lowest they could get is the seven. If they drop both games and finish at 42–40, tied with the Pacers, they get the seven because this game determines the tiebreaker between the two teams. Depending on the outcome of Miami’s game tomorrow and Chicago’s game tomorrow, if the Pacers drop this one they could be out of the playoffs entirely.
If Pacers win: If the Hawks lose the game prior to this too, the Pacers get the six and the Hawks get the seven. If the Hawks win one and lose this one, the Pacers get the seven. Even if they tie with the Bucks, they’ll get the seven because the Bucks own the tiebreaker.
Wizards (49–32) @ Heat (40–41) Projection: 58% Miami
If Wizards win: Doesn’t matter. They’re the four seed no matter what. Miami misses the playoffs if they lose because even if the Bulls lose, Chicago owns the tiebreaker.
If Heat win: The Bulls also need to lose in order for the Heat to get the eight seed. If the Pacers lose and the Bulls also lose, the Heat leap up to seven.
Bulls (40–41) @ Nets (20–61) Projection: 80% Chicago
If the Bulls win: Playoffs baby!!!!!!!!
If the Nets win: Kill me baby!!!!!!!! But if the Heat lose the Bulls still tumble ass-first into the playoffs.
If that section above was confusing or disorienting, here’s a better one, which details the highest and lowest seeds possible for every team and what would need to happen for each circumstance to shake out:
1 seed: (Boston defeats Milwaukee) OR (Cleveland loses to Toronto)
2 seed: (Boston loses to Milwaukee AND Cleveland defeats Toronto)
1 seed: (Cleveland defeats Toronto AND Boston loses to Milwaukee)
2 seed: (Boston defeats Milwaukee) OR (Cleveland loses to Toronto)
3 seed: LOCKED
4 seed: LOCKED
5 seed: (Atlanta wins AT LEAST one of their final two) OR (Milwaukee loses to Boston)
6 seed: Not possible … Why? Check it: If Atlanta goes 2–0 over their last two, they finish 44–38, one game better than Milwaukee, giving Atlanta the five. If Atlanta goes 1–1 and Milwaukee goes 1–0, then they finish with the same record. But Atlanta owns the tiebreaker because Atlanta went 3–1 against Milwaukee this year, so Atlanta would still finish with the five. If Atlanta goes 0–2, Milwaukee goes 0–1, and Indiana goes 1–0, then they all finish with a 42–40 record and Atlanta owns the tiebreaker because they have the best record in games against the other two teams (4–3 for ATL, 3–4 for IND, 4–4 for MIL). In that case, the 5, 6, and 7 are Atlanta, Milwaukee, and Indiana. If Atlanta goes 0–2, Milwaukee goes 1–0, and Indiana goes 1–0, then Milwaukee jumps up to the five seed, and Atlanta ties with Indiana. But since Indiana goes 1–0 in this scenario (and their last game is actually against Atlanta), they both finish 42–40. The last game determines the tiebreaker, which breaks Indiana’s way, giving them the six and Atlanta the seven. Make sense?
7 seed: (Lose both games AND Milwaukee defeats Boston)
5 seed: (Milwaukee defeats Boston AND Atlanta loses their final two games)
6 seed: (Milwaukee loses to Boston AND Atlanta loses one) OR (Atlanta wins both games)
6 seed: (Atlanta loses both games AND Milwaukee defeats Boston)
7 seed: (Atlanta wins one of two) OR (Atlanta loses both games AND Milwaukee loses to Boston)
8 seed: (Pacers lose to Atlanta AND Miami defeats Washington AND the Bulls lose to Brooklyn) OR (Indiana loses to Atlanta AND Chicago defeats Brooklyn AND Miami loses to Washington)
OUT: (Pacers lose to Atlanta AND Miami defeats Washington AND Chicago defeats Brooklyn)
7 seed: (Miami defeats Washington AND Chicago loses to Brooklyn AND Indiana loses to Atlanta)
8 seed: (Miami defeats Washington AND Chicago loses to Brooklyn AND Indiana defeats Atlanta)
OUT: (Miami loses to Washington) OR (Chicago defeats Brooklyn)
7 seed: (Chicago defeats Brooklyn AND Indiana loses to Atlanta)
8 seed: (Chicago defeats Brooklyn AND Indiana defeats Atlanta) OR (Miami loses to Washington AND Indiana defeats Atlanta)
OUT: (Chicago loses to Brooklyn AND Miami defeats Washington)
The biggest takeaway from this is how not confident I am in the Bulls’ chances to make the playoffs. Despite their absolute devastation of the Magic last night, the second-worst team in the conference, they also lost the game before that to Brooklyn. So I’m not holding my breath. Rather, I’m getting smothered like R.J. McMurphy.
Thanks for reading, mom and dad.