We have 16 teams for the 2011 NBA Playoffs! With the Memphis Grizzlies' clinching win on Friday, the total field is set. We, however, have just two of the eight first-round series ironed out. The Chicago Bulls will face the Indiana Pacers in the 1-8 matchup in the East, and the Orlando Magic will take on the Atlanta Hawks in that conference's 4-5 matchup. Nothing else is yet guaranteed.
But thanks to PlayoffStatus.com, we have an idea of the most likely outcomes. Let's take a look at those.
Here are the likely matchups in the East:
The Boston Celtics and Miami Heat have identical records and are both division champions, but the Celtics are guaranteed to win the tiebreaker owing to a 3-0 lead in the season series. (The teams meet again Sunday.) Miami has a good shot of taking No. 2, though.
The other race is between New York and Philadelphia for No. 6. The Knicks remain a half-game ahead, and have the tiebreaker based on a better division record. The teams tied their season series 2-2.
The West is a bit more complicated as no matchups are set, but here's what the probabilities indicate is most likely to happen:
- Spurs (1) vs. Grizzlies (8)
Lakers (2) vs. Hornets (7)
Mavericks (3) vs. Blazers (6)
- Thunder (4) vs. Nuggets (5)
The best bet here is Spurs-Grizzlies; Memphis will have trouble jumping either the Blazers or Hornets, given that both teams have been playing well. There's a huge question mark around the No. 3 seed, as the Thunder sit just a game behind the Mavericks and own the tiebreaker by virtue of being a division champion. The Lakers also have no idea who their first-round opponent will be. According to PlayoffStatus.com, there's a 34 percent probability it will be the Blazers, 33 percent chance it will be the Hornets and 32 percent likelihood it will be the Grizzlies. It's completely up in the air.
The Hornets control their own destiny for No. 6, and if for some reason the Nuggets keep losing (they lost twice to the Thunder this week), the Hornets could even catch Denver for No. 5.
Five days of regular season basketball left. Stay tuned.