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2024 NBA Playoff Race & Betting Odds

Scott Morris | March 16, 2024
Boston Celtics playoff run

There is one month left in the 2023-24 NBA regular season. The Boston Celtics have the best record in basketball at 51-14 heading into games on Mar. 14. After Boston in the East, there are a bunch of teams clustered together vying for one of the top six spots in the postseason. Atlanta, currently 10th in the East, is the only team in playoff contention that is more than 20 games behind its conference leader.

The West has a huge battle going on for the top four spots in the postseason. The top four teams are separated by just 3.5 games heading into the regular season’s homestretch. A number of injuries will likely affect which teams avoid the play-in tournament and which ones do not. Here’s a look at the current state of the NBA playoff race.


How NBA Playoffs Work

It’s worth noting how the NBA’s postseason actually works. For the past four seasons, beginning with the 2019-20 COVID season, the NBA has used a play-in tournament to qualify the seventh and eighth seeds in each conference. Teams that finish in the No. 7 through No. 10 spot in each conference qualify for the play-in tournament.

The teams that finish seventh and eighth in their respective conference play each other in the play-in tournament. Likewise, the ninth and tenth place teams face each other. The winner of the 7-vs.-8 game becomes the No. 7 seed in the NBA playoffs.

The loser of the 9-vs.-10 game is eliminated from the postseason. The winner moves on to face the loser of the 7-vs.-8 game. The winner of that game becomes the eighth seed in the NBA playoffs. Essentially, the No. 7 and No. 8 seed have to win one game to make the postseason. The ninth and tenth seeds have to win two to get in.

Once the play-in tournament is completed, each conference’s playoff bracket is fixed. The No. 1 seed plays No. 8, No. 2 faces No. 7, No. 3 takes on No. 6, and No. 4 and No. 5 play each other. The higher seed always has the home court advantage. 

The winner of the No. 1 vs. No. 8 series always plays the winner of the No. 4 vs. No. 5 series. There is no reseeding in the NBA playoffs.


2024 NBA Postseason Schedule

This year’s play-in tournament will begin on April 16. The first-round playoff series will start on April 20 with the second round beginning on May 6. The NBA conference finals are set to start on May 21 and the NBA Finals will begin on June 9.

All playoff series are a best-of-seven format. The higher seed has home floor advantage and hosts Games 1, 2, 5, and 7. The lower seed hosts Games 3, 4, and 6.


The Eastern Conference Race

Giannis and the Milwaukee BucksThere’s no question about the East. Boston (52-14 after 66 games) is the king and the only team in the NBA that has clinched a playoff spot already. Barring a collapse of monumental proportion, the Celtics will own the No. 1 seed in the East. They are currently 9.5 games ahead of second-place Milwaukee.

The Bucks (43-24) have improved on defense with Doc Rivers as the new head coach. The Bucks struggled (1-3) through a recent four-game road trip, but got back on track with a 114-105 win over Philadelphia on Mar. 14. 

Cleveland (42-24) trails the Bucks by just a half-game. The Cavs are one of the top defensive teams in the NBA and just got leading scorer Donovan Mitchell (27.7 ppg) back in the lineup. New York, Orlando, and Indiana are all separated by just 1.5 games and hold places 3 through 6. 

Since Jan. 22, the Philadelphia 76ers have gone just 7-17, mostly because they have been playing without C Joel Embiid, who had been leading the NBA in scoring and was primed to win another NBA MVP award. The Sixers have fallen out of the top six and are now No. 7 in the East. Miami, Chicago, and Atlanta round out the top ten. No. 11 Brooklyn is 3.5 games behind the Hawks.


The Western Conference Race

Nikola Jokic NuggetsThe top three in the Western Conference has been a rotation among Oklahoma City, Denver, and Minnesota. The Thunder, who are a bit ahead of schedule, are currently tied with the defending champion Nuggets for first place. The two teams have identical 46-20 records. 

The Timberwolves (45-21) are a game back. They will be without Karl-Anthony Towns for an extended period, likely the rest of the regular season. Towns averages 22.1 points per game. The TWolves are led by Anthony Edwards (26.4 ppg) and have the NBA’s top defense. They are currently 2.5 games ahead of the fourth-place Los Angeles Clippers. 

New Orleans (39-26) is one game ahead of Sacramento (38-27) to round out the top six spots in the Western Conference. Phoenix (38-28) is just a half-game behind the Kings and only 3.5 games separate the seventh-place Suns from the tenth-place Golden State Warriors. 

Dallas (38-29) is a half-game behind Phoenix in eighth place and the Los Angeles Lakers (36-31) are ninth and just one game ahead of the Warriors. Houston, which has won four straight and six of its last seven, is 3.5 games out of tenth place.


Current NBA Championship Betting Odds

by BetUS

Boston Celtics +225
Denver Nuggets +375
Los Angeles Clippers +500
Milwaukee Bucks +700
Phoenix Suns +2000
Oklahoma City Thunder +2000
Miami Heat +3000
Dallas Mavericks +3000
Cleveland Cavaliers +3000
Minnesota Timberwolves +3000
Los Angeles Lakers +3500
Golden State Warriors +3500
Philadelphia 76ers +3500
New York Knicks +3500
New Orleans Pelicans +6000
Sacramento Kings +6000
Indiana Pacers +10000
Orlando Magic +25000
Atlanta Hawks +50000
Chicago Bulls +50000
Brooklyn Nets +100000
Toronto Raptors +100000
Houston Rockets +100000
Utah Jazz +100000




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