Checking in on every playoff and play-in race as final week of season begins

Denver Nuggets v Oklahoma City Thunder
Denver Nuggets v Oklahoma City Thunder / Joshua Gateley/GettyImages
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Eastern Conference 2-5

The Celtics are running away with the East in a historically dominant way, but the rest of the top four seeds are wide open. Here’s how it currently stands:

2. Milwaukee Bucks 47-31

3. Orlando Magic 46-32

4. New York Knicks 46-32

5. Cleveland Cavaliers 46-33

The Bucks and Cavs looked like they were going to cruise to the second and third seeds, but both teams have been floundering badly of late. The Knicks and Magic meanwhile, are both surging, which has made this a great race.

While these teams all obviously would like to secure the highest possible seed for homecourt advantage, they’d also like to be up in the 2 and 3 spots to avoid facing the Celtics until the conference finals.

The return of Joel Embiid for the 76ers has added another interesting wrinkle to this race as Philly is suddenly looking like an Eastern power again. Teams would likely prefer to avoid the reigning MVP in round one, but it may not be possible without knowing the results of the play-in.

None of these teams can afford to risk that, and I’m expecting a great race here that goes right down to the final day of the season.