NBA Standings 2020 for the Western and Eastern Conference As 22 Teams to Vie for Playoffs in Season Return

Almost exactly three months after becoming the first of the major U.S. leagues to be called off thanks to the novel coronavirus pandemic, the NBA has set a date for its return.

The NBA season will resume on July 31 in Orlando, Florida. On Thursday teams voted 29-1 in favor of a proposal for the season to resume at ESPN's Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort.

Only 22 of the 30 NBA franchises will travel to Florida, where 88 of the 259 regular-season games that were still to play when the season was interrupted will be played out.

You can find all the key dates and details about the NBA restart plan here, while below is a closer look at which teams will be in Orlando and their respective playoff chances.

Which teams will be in Orlando and which won't?

The top eight teams currently holding a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference—Milwaukee Bucks, Toronto Raptors, Boston Celtics, Miami Heat, Indiana Pacers, Philadelphia 76ers, Brooklyn Nets and Orlando Magic—will travel to Orlando.

They will be joined in Florida by the top eight teams currently holding a playoff spot in the Western Conference—Los Angeles Lakers, LA Clippers, Denver Nuggets, Utah Jazz, Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks and Memphis Grizzlies.

Another six teams, one from the Eastern Conference—Washington Wizards—and five from the Western Conference—Portland Trail Blazers, New Orleans Pelicans, Sacramento Kings, San Antonio Spurs and Phoenix Suns—will also make the trip to Orlando.

The season, however, is already over for the Charlotte Hornets, Chicago Bulls, New York Knicks, Detroit Pistons, Atlanta Hawks, Cleveland Cavaliers, Minnesota Timberwolves and Golden State Warriors.

Current playoff standings

Eastern Conference (* Denotes team that has clinched a playoff spot)

  1. Milwaukee Bucks* 53-12
  2. Toronto Raptors* 46-18
  3. Boston Celtics* 43-21
  4. Miami Heat 41-24
  5. Indiana Pacers 39-26
  6. Philadelphia 76ers 39-26
  7. Brooklyn Nets 30-34
  8. Orlando Magic 30-35

The Washington Wizards (24-40) are the only other Eastern Conference team that will play in Orlando from July 31.

Western Conference (* Denotes team that has clinched a playoff spot)

  1. Los Angeles Lakers * 49-14
  2. LA Clippers 44-20
  3. Denver Nuggets 43-22
  4. Utah Jazz 41-23
  5. Oklahoma City Thunder 40-24
  6. Houston Rockets 40-24
  7. Dallas Mavericks 40-27
  8. Memphis Grizzlies 32-33

While just one extra Eastern Conference team will feature in the remainder of the regular season aside from the eight currently holding a playoff berth, the Western Conference will have a total of 13 teams.

Aside from the current top eight teams, the Portland Trail Blazers (29-37), New Orleans Pelicans and Sacramento Kings (both 28-36), San Antonio Spurs (27-36) and Phoenix Suns (26-39) will compete for a postseason berth.

Zion Williamson, New Orleans Pelicans
Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans looks on during the game against the San Antonio Spurs at Smoothie King Center on January 22 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Chris Graythen/Getty

How will the playoff teams be determined?

As in a normal NBA season, eight teams per conference will qualify for the playoffs. The process, however, will be slightly different.

While normally the eight teams with the best regular-season record in each conference will go to the playoffs, this year the seven teams in each conference with the best combined records between regular-season games and seeding games will qualify for the postseason.

The identity of the eight teams in each conference can be determined in two ways.

If the team with the eighth-best combined record in its conference is more than four games ahead of the team with the ninth-best combined record in the same conference, the former will qualify for the postseason.

Should the gap be smaller than four games, the teams will take part in a play-in tournament.

In practical terms that means that if the Memphis Grizzlies finish in eighth place in the Western Conference less than four games clear of the Portland Trail Blazers, the two teams will play each other.

To earn a spot in the playoffs, the Grizzlies would have to beat the Trail Blazers once, while Portland must defeat Memphis in two consecutive games to earn a post-season berth.

Once the 16 teams are determined, the playoffs will follow the usual format with each of three conference rounds and the NBA Finals to be played on a best-of-seven basis.

Why has the NBA not gone straight to the playoffs?

For two reasons. Ostensibly, the league wanted to allow the teams still within reach of the playoffs—Washington in the East, Portland, New Orleans, Sacramento, San Antonio and Phoenix in the West—a shot to qualify for the postseason.

The league has reasoned that certain teams could have had legitimate ground for complaint had they not been given the chance to make the playoffs, particularly in the Western Conference—where the race remains tight.

It is also worth noting, however, that by the time the season was suspended on March 11, only the Golden State Warriors were mathematically out of contention for a playoff spot.

The second reason for the NBA opting to bring 22 teams to Orlando is purely financial. As ESPN pointed out, if the remaining 259 regular-season games had been canceled, the players would have lost a combined $645 million in salaries.

By playing a combined 88 games regular-season games in Orlando, the league has reduced the collective loss by $300 million.

What are the chances of a play-in tournament?

Relatively slim in the Eastern Conference, where the Wizards are 5.5 games behind the Magic, who currently hold the eighth playoff spot.

The prospect is far more concrete in the Western Conference, where the eighth-placed Grizzlies hold a 3.5-game advantage over Portland, New Orleans and Sacramento—with the Spurs and the Suns respectively four and six games behind Memphis.

According to FiveThirtyEight projections, the Pelicans have a 60 percent chance of making the playoffs, while Memphis and Portland have a 15 and 14 percent chance respectively.

The Kings and the Spurs have a nine and two percent shot of reaching the postseason, while the Suns' hopes are smaller than one percent.

Who is the favorite for the NBA Finals?

According to FanDuel, FOX Bet and Bet MGM, the Milwaukee Bucks are 12/5 favorite to win the NBA title, while the three bookmakers have the Los Angeles Lakers at 27/10, 14/5 and 5/2 respectively.

The Lakers and the Bucks are both 5/2 joint-favorites with DraftKings, while the LA Clippers follow at 17/5 with most bookmakers.

FiveThirtyEight projections give the Lakers a 27 percent of winning the title, followed by the Clippers and the Bucks at 26 percent and 20 percent respectively.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, LeBron James
Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks and LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers hug following a game at Fiserv Forum on December 19, 2019 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Stacy Revere/Getty