The NBA season is typically a marathon run of games over several months, but the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has turned the 2019-20 campaign into a sprint toward the finish line.

Playoff positioning is on the line as 22 NBA teams resume play at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando. Fla. The playoff fields in each conference are largely set, but there could be some drama during the “seeding games” as teams jockey for postseason positioning.

MORE: Full NBA schedule for season restart in Orlando

How will the race for the No. 8 seed in the West play out? How much will the seedings change in the East? Those questions will soon be answered.

Let’s take a look at the 2020 NBA playoff picture, including standings and potential matchups for each conference.

NBA standings 2020

Here are the current NBA standings as of March 11, the last day official games were played. Teams in bold have been invited to Orlando to finish the regular season.

Eastern Conference

Seed Team Record Games back
1. Bucks 53-12
2. Raptors 46-18 6.5
3. Celtics 43-21 9.5
4. Heat 41-24 12
5. Pacers 39-26 14
6. 76ers 39-26 14
7. Nets 30-34 22.5
8. Magic 30-35 23
Wizards 24-40 28.5
Hornets 23-42 30
Bulls 22-43 31
Knicks 21-45 32.5
Pistons 20-46 33.5
Hawks 20-47 34
Cavaliers 19-46 34

Western Conference

Seed Team Record Games back
1. Lakers 49-14
2. Clippers 44-20 5.5
3. Nuggets 43-22 7
4. Jazz 41-23 8.5
5. Thunder 40-24 9.5
6. Rockets 40-24 9.5
7. Mavericks 40-27 11
8. Grizzlies 32-33 18
Trail Blazers 29-37 21.5
Pelicans 28-36 21.5
Kings 28-36 21.5
Spurs 27-36 22
Suns 26-39 24
Timberwolves 19-45 30.5
Warriors 15-50 35

When do the NBA playoffs start in 2020?

  • Play-in games (if necessary): Aug. 15-16
  • NBA playoffs: Aug. 17
  • NBA conference finals: Sept. 15
  • NBA Finals: Sept. 30

“Seeding games” will be played through Aug. 14, and a play-in tournament will be held Aug. 15-16 if necessary with the first round of the playoffs starting Aug. 17. The NBA Finals will begin Sept. 30 and end no later than Oct. 13.

How do the NBA playoffs work?

Each of the 22 remaining teams is scheduled to play eight “seeding games” in order to determine playoff positioning in both conferences.

If the No. 9 seed in each conference is more than four games behind the No. 8 seed at the conclusion of the regular season, the No. 8 seed will earn the final playoff spot. If the No. 9 seed is four games or fewer behind the No. 8 seed, then those teams will enter a play-in tournament (double-elimination for the eighth seed, single-elimination for the ninth seed). 

The playoffs will follow the typical format with full best-of-seven series all the way through the NBA Finals.

NBA playoff bracket

Here’s what the NBA’s first-round playoff matchups would be if the season ended today.

Eastern Conference

(1) Bucks vs. (8) Magic

(2) Raptors vs. (7) Nets

(3) Celtics vs. (6) 76ers

(4) Heat vs. (5) Pacers

Western Conference

(1) Lakers vs. (8) Grizzlies

(2) Clippers vs. (7) Mavericks

(3) Nuggets vs. (6) Rockets

(4) Jazz vs. (5) Thunder





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