NBA Playoffs: An updated look at the teams who could be in or out

DeMar DeRozan (10) drives to the basket as Memphis Grizzlies forwards Jaren Jackson Jr (13) Jae Crowder (99) and guard De'Anthony Melton
Photo of Ricky Dimon

Ricky Dimon

NBA · 2 years ago

Show Bio

Since graduating from Davidson (The College That Stephen Curry Built), I have been writing about sports--just about any and all you can think of!--and coaching tennis in Atlanta, Ga. Beyond the four major sports, I am an avid tennis fan and cover the ATP Tour on a daily basis. If I'm not busy writing, you can generally find me on a tennis court or traveling the world wherever a sporting event takes me.

Teams are nearing the halfway point (41 games) of their 2019-20 NBA seasons, so it is not too early for a look at the playoff picture. At least three spots are very much there for the taking, with a whole host of contenders obviously still in the picture at this relatively early juncture.

Orlando Magic

There are two spots available in the Eastern Conference, with arguably up to six teams fighting for them—but the more realistic number is four. Milwaukee, Miami, Boston, Toronto, Philadelphia, and Indiana are all locks. Orlando currently occupies the seventh spot, one game ahead of eighth-place Brooklyn and four games clear of Detroit and Charlotte. Led by Evan Fournier, Nikola Vucevic, and Aaron Gordon, the 18-20 Magic may be in line for the No. 7 seed for a second consecutive season.

Brooklyn Nets

Even with Kevin Durant sidelined for the entire 2019-20 campaign, there were still folks out there who thought the Nets would contend in the East right away following their offseason spending spree. Well, think again. Brooklyn is 16-20 and showing no signs of turning things around now that Kyrie Irving might also be shut down.

Detroit Pistons

The Pistons are tied for Charlotte for No. 9 in the East as the potential beneficiaries if either Orlando or Brooklyn should stumble. And the Nets might want to stumble. They are clearly playing for the future (2020-21) as opposed to the present and they keep their first-round pick this summer if it’s in the lottery. Although Detroit is three games out of playoff position, the talent is there with Blake Griffin, Derrick Rose, and Andre Drummond. But will it still be there following the trade deadline?

San Antonio Spurs

There is at least one playoff spot up for grabs in the Western Conference and perhaps two. A seventh-place team with a 5.5-game cushion would generally be a lock except in this case that team is Oklahoma City. The Thunder have overachieved this season while in rebuilding mode, leading the eighth-place Spurs by 4.5 games and both Memphis and Portland by 5.5. If San Antonio can hold off the Grizzlies, Trail Blazers, and some other mediocre squads, it will at least bag the No. 8 seed and a likely first-round date with the Lakers. Head coach Gregg Popovich’s team is 16-20 but has won two in a row and four of its last six.

Memphis Grizzlies

Because the Grizzlies got lucky in the draft lottery last summer and picked No. 2 overall, people forget that they actually weren’t that bad in 2018-19. Memphis went 33-49, so its current 16-22 record is really not much of an improvement. Fortunately for Ja Morant and company, there are only seven decent teams in the Western Conference. As such, the Grizzlies should remain in contention the whole way if Morant can stay healthy.

Portland Trail Blazers

Portland came within one game of reaching the conference finals last season. The fact that it is currently out of the playoff picture is grounds for being considered the most disappointing team in all of basketball. Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum, and Carmelo Anthony aren’t enough to overcome all kinds of injuries sustained by key role players. The Trail Blazers are tied with Memphis at 16-22 heading into Thursday’s matchup in Minnesota (check out our free NBA predictions).

Virginia Bonuses

See All
FanDuel Sportsbook

$1,000

Get a $1,000 Risk-Free Bet

Sign up for a new FanDuel Sportsbook account and make your first deposit of $10+

Place your first bet up to $1,000 risk-free!

Get refunded up if you lose up to $1,000

Must be 21+. First online real money wager only. $10 first deposit required. Bonus issued as non-withdrawable free bets that expire 14 days after receipt. See full terms at fanduel.com/sportsbook.

DraftKings

$200

Bet $5+ On Any NFL Pre-Game ML, Get $200 If Your Bet Wins

Sign up for a new account with DraftKings Sportsbook and make your first deposit

Bet $5+ on any NFL pre-game ML

Win $200 if your team wins

Offer valid for new players only. Must be 21 years or older to play. Reward paid in site credit. Full terms available at DraftKings Sportsbook.

Unibet

$100

Get a $100 Risk-Free Bet!

Register for a new Unibet account & make a deposit

Place your first bet up to $100 risk-free!

Get refunded up if you lose up to $100

New players only. Terms & conditions apply. 21+. VA only.

PointsBet

$800

Get 4x $200 In Free Bets

Sign up for a new PointsBet account

Bet up to $200 and If you lose, you get a refund

You will receive Free Bet(s) in the amount of the losing wager(s), up to $200 each for four days.

Must be 21+. Full terms are available at PointsBet.

Caesars Sportsbook

$1,250

Get a $1,250 risk-free bet

Sign up for a new Caesars Sportsbook account

Place your first bet of $10 or more

If your first bet loses, you’ll receive a refund up to $1,250 from Caesars in free bets

21+. Terms and conditions apply.

BetMGM

$1,000

Get a $1,000 Risk Free Bet

Register for a new BetMGM & deposit

Place your first bet up to $1,000 risk-free!

Get refunded up if you lose up to $1,000

21+. Terms & conditions apply.

BetRivers

$500

Get Your First Bet Risk-Free Up To $500

Sign up for a new BetRivers account using promo code PICKSWISE

Make your first deposit & get up to $500 in free bets

To get $500 in free bets, wager $500

Must be 21+. Play in IA Only. Gambling Problem? Call 1-800-BETS OFF

DraftKings

$100

Bet $5+ on MLB and get $100 in Free Bets Instantly!

Sign up for a new account with DraftKings Sportsbook and make your first deposit

Bet $5+ on any MLB team to win their next game

Win $100 no matter what!

Offer valid for new players only. Must be 21 years or older to play. Reward paid in site credit. Full terms available at DraftKings Sportsbook.

PointsBet

$500

Get 5x $100 in Free Bets With PointsBet's Second Chance

Sign up for a new PointsBet account

Make a bet of up to $100 and receive a refund if you lose

Get this offer once a day for the first 5 days you sign up

Must be 21+. Full terms are available at PointsBet.

DraftKings

$1,000

Get a $1,000 Deposit Bonus!

Register for a new DraftKings Sportsbook account & deposit

DraftKings will match 20% of your deposit up to $1,000 total

To get a $100 bonus, deposit $500

21+. Terms & conditions apply.

PointsBet

$2,000

Get $2,000 in Free Bets

Register for a new PointsBet account & deposit

Receive a free bet refund up to $500 if your first fixed odds bet loses

& a free bet refund up to $1,500 if your first two PointsBetting Wager loses

Must be 21+. Full terms are available at PointsBet.

Monkey Knife Fight

$100

Claim Instant Deposit Match up to $100 + Free $5 game

Register for a Monkey Knife Fight account & deposit using promo code PICKSWISE100

Monkey Knife Fight will match your first deposit up to $100

Deposit $100 and you'll get $100 bonus + a free $5 game

18+. Terms and conditions apply. You must live in one of the states where real money DFS is legal.

Yahoo DFS

$25

Get $25 in Site Credit With Yahoo DFS When You Deposit $5!

Register for a new account with Yahoo DFS and deposit $5+

Enter a $5 DFS contest

Upon entry, you will receive a bonus $25 in credit into your account!

21+ and new players only. Full terms available from Yahoo DFS.

TVG

$200

Get Your First Single-Horse Win Wager Back Up to $200 if you don't win

Register for a new TVG account and make a deposit

Place your first single horse win-type bet up to $200

If your horse doesn't win you'll get a refund up to $300

21+. T&C's apply. Please gamble responsibly.

TwinSpires

$200

Get a $200 Sign-Up Bonus with Twinspires Racebook!

Open your TwinSpires.com account using offer code BET200

$200 bonus cash will be credited in increments of $100 for every $400 wagered

To earn the full $200 bonus players must wager $800 within 30 days

21+. Terms and conditions apply.