NBA playoffs were set to begin Saturday: Current matchups have Lakers, Clippers on conference finals course

In a pre-coronavirus world, the NBA playoffs would officially be underway as Saturday would've marked the beginning of the first round. Instead, the hiatus continues for nearly all sports across the globe. 

The NBA's board of governors met on Friday to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic as it pertains to the league, and afterward in a conference call with media members, NBA commissioner Adam Silver said there is still not enough information to determine when or if the 2019-20 season can resume. While there's still much uncertainty, Silver noted the league is listening to any and all suggestions on what the NBA could do to return to action once it is safe to do so. 

If the league is able to resume play, it's likely the remainder of the regular season would be canceled and we would move straight into postseason action. The idea of a play-in tournament has also been brought up, though there is no telling what such a format would look like. 

What we do know is what the 16-team playoff brackets would've looked like had the postseason began on Saturday, and barring a play-in tournament or finishing off the regular season, what they will look like when and if playoff action does eventually commence. 

*Championship odds via William Hill Sportsbook

Western Conference

TEAMRECORDMATCHUPTITLE ODDS

1. LAKERS

49-14 (--)

vs. GRIZZLIES

+200

2. CLIPPERS

44-20 (5.5 GB)

vs. MAVERICKS

+300

3. NUGGETS

43-22 (7 GB)

vs. ROCKETS

+2000

4. JAZZ

41-23 (8.5 GB)

vs. THUNDER

+3500

5. THUNDER

40-24 (9.5 GB)

at JAZZ

+10000

6. ROCKETS

40-24 (9.5 GB)

at NUGGETS

+1600

7. MAVERICKS

40-27 (11 GB)

at CLIPPERS

+3500

8. GRIZZLIES

32-33 (18 GB)

at LAKERS

+50000

A few notable things about the current playoff matchups should the regular season ultimately be scrapped: The Lakers and Clippers are on opposite sides of the bracket, meaning they couldn't meet until the conference finals. The Rockets, even though they're only the No. 6 seed, actually have the third-best championship odds of all the Western Conference teams, according to William Hill Sportsbook. 

Should the regular season resume, a lot of this seeding could change quite a bit. Just two games separate the Nos. 3-6 seeds in the loss column, the same amount of distance that stands between the No. 2 Clippers and No. 3 Nuggets. If several games still get played out and Denver is given a chance to potentially pass the Clippers, that could put the Lakers and Clippers on a collision course one round earlier.

As for the final spot, Memphis would have no problem seeing the regular season canceled altogether. It owns the eighth and final playoff spot over four teams that were, as you can see below, well within striking distance for the final Western Conference playoff berth. 

Race for No. 8

TEAMRECORDGB NO. 8 SEEDPLAYOFF PROJECTION

9. BLAZERS

29-37 

4 (In loss column)

14.2%

10. PELICANS

28-36 

3 (In loss column)

24.3%

11. KINGS

28-36

3 (In loss column)

10.7%

12. SPURS

27-36

3 (In loss column)

5.2%

You'll notice the Pelicans would have had the best odds of all these teams to sneak into the No. 8 spot, largely thanks to having one of the five easiest remaining schedules should regular-season play resume. The Blazers, meanwhile, would have likely made for the most dangerous No. 8 seed for the presence of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum alone. Portland went to the conference finals last season and would be in line to get Jusuf Nurkic back into the lineup down the stretch. 

Eastern Conference

TEAMRECORDMATCHUPTITLE ODDS

1. BUCKS

53-12 (--)

vs. MAGIC

+240

2. RAPTORS

46-18 (6.5 GB)

vs. NETS

+1800

3. CELTICS

43-21 (9.5 GB)

vs. 76ERS

+1800

4. HEAT

41-24 (12 GB)

vs. PACERS

+3500

5. PACERS

39-26 (14 GB)

at HEAT

+12500

6. 76ERS

39-26 (14 GB)

at CELTICS

+4000

7. NETS

30-34 (22.5 GB)

at RAPTORS

+5000

8. MAGIC

30-35 (23 GB)

at BUCKS

+150000

Right off the bat, the first-round matchup that jumps off the page is Boston vs. Philadelphia. Both teams believe they can win the conference, and one of them is going to be done in the first round if the regular season is over and these are indeed the playoff matchups. 

For the Sixers, that could well mean Brett Brown is out of a job come next season. The good news, if there is any to be found in this current climate, is this hiatus is giving Ben Simmons, who had missed significant time with a nerve impingement in his back when the hiatus began, time to get healthy. 

If the regular season does resume, the East's eight playoff spots aren't likely to change -- as you'll see in the SportsLine playoff projections in the far right column of the table below. 

Race for No. 8

TEAMRECORDGB NO. 8 SEEDPLAYOFF PROJECTION

9. WIZARDS

24-40

5 (In loss column)

1%

10. HORNETS

23-42

7 (In loss column)

1%

11. BULLS

22-43

8 (In loss column)

1%

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