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The Los Angeles Lakers are trying to stay out of the play-in tournament, but LeBron James is out for Thursday's game vs. the Clippers and likely for Friday's game vs. the Blazers. That game vs. Portland is huge. The Lakers, currently the No. 6 seed, have a one-loss lead over the No. 7 Blazers with the season series tied 1-1. That game will decide the tiebreaker and could very well decide who has to play their way into the postseason. 

A quick reminder on the NBA's new play-in format: The top six seeds in each conference are in, with the final two seeds up for grabs via the new play-in tournament. In each conference, No. 7 will play No. 8 with the winner getting the No. 7 seed. The loser will then play the winner of 9 vs. 10 for the No. 8 seed.

Below is what the playoff picture looks like entering play on Wednesday, May 5. Teams are listed in order of current seed along with the SportsLine projected finishing seed and different magic number scenarios. A "playoff spot" means a top-six seed. This post will continue to update for the remainder of the season as we keep track of these races down to the wire. 

NOTE: Our SportsLine model, developed by predictive data engineer Stephen Oh, simulates the entire season 10,000 times to produce the most unbiased and precise projections possible.

WESTERN CONFERENCE

(Current playoff teams)

1. Utah Jazz

The Jazz beat the Spurs on Wednesday. Combined with the Suns' loss to Atlanta, the Jazz now hold a one-game lead over Phoenix (which owns the tiebreaker) for the No. 1 overall seed. 

  • Magic number to clinch No. 1 seed: 6
  • Magic number to clinch top-two seed: 2
  • Strength of remaining schedule: 23rd
  • Projected seed: No. 1

2. Phoenix Suns

The Suns fell to Atlanta on Wednesday while the Jazz beat the Spurs. The result is Phoenix trailing the Jazz by one in the loss column for the No. 1 overall seed. The Suns own the tiebreaker. 

  • Magic number to clinch top-two seed: 4
  • Strength of remaining schedule: 9th
  • Projected seed: No. 2

3. Denver Nuggets

The Nuggets defeated the Knicks on Wednesday to re-jump the Clippers for the No. 3 seed. Denver and L.A. are tied by record and Denver owns the tiebreaker. 

  • Magic number to clinch top-four seed: 1
  • Strength of remaining schedule: 16th
  • Projected seed: No. 4

4. Los Angeles Clippers

The Clippers have clinched a playoff spot. They play the Lakers, without LeBron James, Thursday night in a pivotal game for both teams. What's interesting is by beating the Lakers on Thursday, the Clippers, by way of moving up to the No. 3 seed and keeping the Lakers at No. 6, would increase their chances of playing their Staples-roommate rival in the 3-6 first-round series, but if they lose, the Clippers become likelier to stay at No. 4 and help the Lakers move up to No. 5 and still see them in the first round. 

  • Magic number to clinch top-four seed: 1
  • Strength of remaining schedule: 26th
  • Projected seed: No. 3

5. Dallas Mavericks

The Mavericks are tied in the loss column with the No. 6 Lakers (Dallas owns tiebreaker) and have a one-loss lead over the No. 7 Blazers (Portland owns tiebreaker). The Mavericks have clinched a spot in the play-in tournament. 

  • Magic number to clinch playoff spot: 6
  • Strength of remaining schedule: 27th
  • Projected seed: No. 5

6. Los Angeles Lakers

The Lakers are tied with No. 5 Dallas, which owns the tiebreaker. The Lakers have a one-loss lead over No. 7 Portland with one matchup remaining Friday night and the season series tied 1-1. The Lakers have clinched a spot in the play-in tournament. 

  • Magic number to clinch playoff spot: 5
  • Strength of remaining schedule: 11th
  • Projected seed: No. 6

(Current play-in teams)

7. Portland Trail Blazers

The Blazers beat Cleveland on Wednesday night They remain one game back of the No. 6 Lakers with the season series tied 1-1 and one matchup remaining Friday night. The Blazers, who hold a three-loss lead over No. 8 Memphis, have clinched a spot in the play-in tournament. 

  • Strength of remaining schedule: 4th
  • Projected seed: No. 7

8. Memphis Grizzlies

The Grizzlies have a one-loss lead on No. 9 Golden State. The season series is tied 1-1 with one matchup remaining on the final day of the season, which could very well determine which team has to win two play-in games and which has to win one to make the playoffs. Memphis has a two-loss lead over San Antonio, but with the tiebreaker already secured, that lead is effectively three. 

  • Magic number to clinch play-in series: 3
  • Strength of remaining schedule: 24th
  • Projected seed: No. 8

9. Golden State Warriors

The Warriors trail the No. 8 Grizzlies by one in the loss column. The season series is tied 1-1 with one matchup remaining on the final day of the season. The Warriors have a one-loss lead over No. 10 San Antonio (31-33) with the tiebreaker in hand. The Warriors lead the No. 11 Pelicans by three in the loss column with the season series tied 1-1 and one matchup remaining. 

  • Magic number to clinch play-in series: 4
  • Strength of remaining schedule: 15th
  • Projected seed: No. 9

10. San Antonio Spurs

The Spurs, losers of five straight, are one loss back of the No. 9 Warriors, who own the tiebreaker, making that gap effectively two games. San Antonio is up two in the loss column on the No. 11 Pelicans with the tiebreaker secured, making that lead three in effect. 

  • Magic number to clinch play-in series: 6
  • Strength of remaining schedule: 2nd
  • Projected seed: No. 10

(Clinging to play-in life)

  • 11. New Orleans Pelicans -- Two losses back of No. 10 San Antonio (Spurs have the tiebreaker)

EASTERN CONFERENCE

(Current playoff teams)

1. Philadelphia 76ers

The Sixers have a two-loss lead over the Nets for the No. 1 seed. Philly also has the tiebreaker over Brooklyn, meaning that lead is effectively three. 

  • Magic number to clinch No. 1 seed: 4
  • Magic number to clinch top-two seed: 4
  • Strength of remaining schedule: 29th
  • Projected seed: No. 1

2. Brooklyn Nets

The Nets have lost three straight to basically fall out of the running for the No. 1 seed. Brooklyn now leads the No. 3 Bucks by just one in the loss column and Milwaukee owns the tiebreaker. The Nets have clinched a top-three seed by way of the Knicks' loss to Denver on Wednesday night. 

  • Magic number to clinch top-two seed: 6
  • Strength of remaining schedule: 21st
  • Projected seed: No. 2

3. Milwaukee Bucks

The Bucks are within one loss of No. 2 Brooklyn with the tiebreaker secured. Milwaukee owns a five-loss lead over the No. 4 Knicks with eight to play, so the No. 3 seed is pretty secure even though the Knicks own the tiebreaker. Milwaukee has clinched a top-four seed. 

  • Magic number to clinch top-three seed: 2
  • Strength of remaining schedule: 28th
  • Projected seed: No. 3

4. New York Knicks

The Knicks fell in Denver on Wednesday night, while the No. 5 Hawks beat the Suns. That leaves New York with a one-game lead over Atlanta in the loss column with the tiebreaker in hand, making that an effective two-game lead. 

The Knicks have a two-loss lead over No. 6 Miami (Heat own tiebreaker) and No. 7 Boston (season series tied 1-1 with one matchup remaining on the final day of the season). The Knicks have clinched a spot in at least the play-in tournament. 

  • Magic number to clinch playoff spot: 3
  • Magic number to clinch top-four seed: 6
  • Strength of remaining schedule: 3rd
  • Projected seed: No. 5

5. Atlanta Hawks

The Hawks got a huge win over Phoenix on Wednesday and are now within one loss of the No. 4 Knicks (New York owns the tiebreaker). The more pressing concern is holding off No. 6 Miami and No. 7 Boston so the Hawks can remain in the 4-5 first-round matchup and avoid either Milwaukee or Brooklyn out of the gate. Atlanta leads both Miami and Boston by one in the loss column with the tiebreaker in hand over both, making those leads effectively two games. SportsLine projections have Atlanta passing New York for the No. 4 seed thanks in part to having the league easiest remaining schedule. 

  • Magic number to clinch playoff spot: 3
  • Strength of remaining schedule: 30th
  • Projected seed: No. 4

6. Boston Celtics

Boston is tied in the loss column with No. 7 Miami with a 1-0 season-series lead. The Celtics play the Heat twice more before the season's end. Boston, which has clinched a spot in at least the play-in tournament, trails No. 5 Atlanta by one in the loss column but the Hawks own the tiebreaker. Boston has a two-loss lead over Charlotte with the tiebreaker in hand. 

  • Magic number to clinch playoff spot: 4
  • Strength of remaining schedule: 25th
  • Projected seed: No. 6

(Current play-in teams)

7. Miami Heat

The Heat are tied with the No. 6 Celtics with two matchups remaining. Boston leads the season series 1-0 and thus has the tiebreaker at the moment. Miami is one loss back of No. 5 Atlanta but the Hawks have the tiebreaker. The Heat have a two-loss lead over No. 8 Charlotte (Hornets own tiebreaker). Miami has clinched a spot in the play-in tournament. 

  • Magic number to clinch playoff spot: 5
  • Strength of remaining schedule: 18th
  • Projected seed: No. 7

8. Charlotte Hornets

The Hornets are two losses back of No. 6 Boston, but the Celtics own the tiebreaker so that deficit is effectively three. The better bet for Charlotte is to catch No. 7 Miami, which also has a two-game lead over the Hornets, but the Hornets own the tiebreaker. Charlotte, with a two-loss lead over No. 9 Indiana with the tiebreaker in hand, is pretty safe to land in the first play-in game, which would give them two chances to win one game for a playoff spot. 

  • Magic number to clinch play-in spot: 2
  • Strength of remaining schedule: 17th
  • Projected seed: No. 8

9. Indiana Pacers

The Pacers trail the No. 8 Hornets by two in the loss column, but Charlotte owns the tiebreaker, so that deficit is effectively three. Indiana has a one-loss lead over No. 10 Washington, which has secured the tiebreaker, with one matchup remaining. 

  • Magic number to clinch play-in spot: 4
  • Strength of remaining schedule: 12th
  • Projected seed: No. 9

10. Washington Wizards

The Wizards trail the No. 9 Pacers by one game with the tiebreaker secured and one head-to-head remaining on Saturday. The Wizards have a three-loss lead over the No. 11 Raptors and No. 12 Bulls

  • Magic number to clinch play-in spot: 4
  • Strength of remaining schedule: 22nd
  • Projected seed: No. 10

(Outside looking in)

  • 11. Toronto Raptors -- Three losses back of No. 10 Washington
  • 12. Chicago Bulls -- Three losses back of No. 10 Washington