NBA Playoffs 2019: Which Teams Have Punched a Postseason Ticket?

Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
Stephen Curry, #30 of the Golden State Warriors grabs his jersey against the Charlotte Hornets during their game at Spectrum Center on February 25 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The NBA regular season has entered its final stretch, and with little over two weeks left a number of teams are jostling for a playoff spot.

With the exception of the Golden State Warriors, Denver Nuggets and Sacramento Kings, no team has more than 12 games left on its schedule.

Bar major surprises, the eight playoff teams in the Western Conference have all but been decided, but the seeding could change dramatically between now and April 13.

In the East, meanwhile, the situation is more fluid, as only 4.5 games separate the number six and number 10 seeds.

Here's the state of play for both conferences.

Eastern Conference

The Milwaukee Bucks, Toronto Raptors and Philadelphia 76ers have all clinched a playoff spot, while only mathematics still prevents the Indiana Pacers and the Boston Celtics from patting themselves on the back for reaching the postseason.

The Pacers are 44-26 and have a mammoth 11.5-game gap over the Orlando Magic, who would be the first team to miss out on the playoffs if the season ended today.

The Celtics are one game behind Indiana and just as comfortable. The two are respectively two and one games behind the Sixers. The race for the third seed spot will be one to keep an eye on over the next three weeks.

Behind Boston, there are seven teams still vying for a postseason berth, although the Atlanta Hawks can be ruled out as they are 10 games behind the eighth-placed Heat.

Detroit is currently the sixth seed with a 36-33 record and has a four-game gap over Orlando. The average of playoff probability percentages from FiveThirtyEight, Basketball Reference and ESPN gives the Pistons a 97.5 percent chance of reaching the playoffs.

At 36-36, the Brooklyn Nets are currently the last team in the Eastern Conference with a record of .500 or above, but have to look over their shoulders. Brooklyn is 2.5 games ahead of the ninth-seeded team and retains an 81.7 percent of making the playoffs, despite losing its last three straight games.

Only one game separates eight-placed Miami and the Magic, with the Charlotte Hornets a further game behind. The Heat have a 53 percent chance of being involved past the regular season, a figure that drops to 50.6 percent for Orlando.

The Hornets, meanwhile, have done their playoffs no favors whatsoever after losing five of their last seven games and the probability of them making the postseason is on average 11.9 percent.

Washington is 4.5 games behind Miami and needs a miracle, while Chicago, Cleveland and New York have already been eliminated.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
Giannis Antetokounmpo, #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks reacts after a slam dunk against the Phoenix Suns during the first half of the NBA game at Talking Stick Resort Arena on March 4 in Phoenix, Arizona. Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Western Conference

While the top eight is more clearly defined than in the Eastern Conference, only the Golden State Warriors and the Denver Nuggets have secured a playoff spot in the west.

The top two spots seem secure, but there's plenty to play for behind them, with 3.5 games behind the third-ranked Houston Rockets and the eight-placed Los Angeles Clippers. The Portland Trail Blazers, the San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder and Utah Jazz are sandwiched in between the two and are separated by just two games.

However, the Clippers have a six-game gap over the Sacramento Kings, who are currently in ninth place.

To put things into context, that means the Kings' chances of making the playoffs are smaller than 0.1 percent.

That, in turn, all but rules out the two teams behind them—the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Los Angeles Lakers—who will soon join New Orleans, Memphis, Dallas and Phoenix in being mathematically eliminated from the postseason.

Uncommon Knowledge

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

About the writer

Dan Cancian is currently a reporter for Newsweek based in London, England. Prior to joining Newsweek in January 2018, he was a news and business reporter at International Business Times UK. Dan has also written for The Guardian and The Observer. 

Newsweek cover
  • Newsweek magazine delivered to your door
  • Unlimited access to
  • Ad free experience
  • iOS and Android app access
  • All newsletters + podcasts
Newsweek cover
  • Unlimited access to
  • Ad free experience
  • iOS and Android app access
  • All newsletters + podcasts