NBA playoff standings for 2017 could lead to some very intriguing first-round matchups. The current NBA playoff bracket projects a Chicago Bulls vs. Boston Celtics series in the Eastern Conference and a San Antonio Spurs vs. Oklahoma City Thunder series in the Western Conference. Both matchups could yield a lot of excitement in the 2017 NBA Playoffs, but can any of those four teams dethrone the Golden State Warriors or Cleveland Cavaliers?
In the updated NBA standings from March 5, the San Antonio Spurs have made a huge push to try to catch the Warriors in the Western Conference. A seven-game winning streak for the Spurs, combined with a two-game losing streak by the Warriors, and suddenly there is only a two game difference in the latest NBA playoff standings. Can the Spurs catch the Warriors in the final 21 games of the NBA regular season?
On the Golden State Warriors' 2017 schedule, the team next has a game against the New York Knicks on March 5, followed by a tough home game against the Boston Celtics on March 8. The two most important games might come on March 11 and 29, though, as the Warriors have two road games against the Spurs. Those two games will decide the season series between the Warriors and Spurs, which will directly impact the final NBA playoff bracket.
When the NBA playoffs start, if the Spurs have passed the Warriors in the overall standings, it could create a first-round playoff matchup between the Warriors and Oklahoma City Thunder. Now that's a playoff series that would be easy for the league to sell to viewers.
2017 NBA Playoff Bracket
(1) Golden State Warriors vs. (8) Denver Nuggets(4) Utah Jazz vs. (5) Los Angeles Clippers
(3) Houston Rockets vs. (6) Memphis Grizzlies(2) San Antonio Spurs vs. (7) Oklahoma City Thunder
(1) Cleveland Cavaliers vs. (8) Detroit Pistons(4) Toronto Raptors vs. (5) Atlanta Hawks
(3) Washington Wizards vs. (6) Indiana Pacers(2) Boston Celtics vs. (7) Chicago Bulls
NBA Playoffs 2017 Start Date
The regular season comes to an end on April 12, leaving just more than a month until the 2017 NBA playoffs start date. Though the league hasn't dictated which games will tip off the postseason, the first playoff games will take place on Saturday, April 15. 16 teams will be working toward the goal of making the 2017 NBA Finals, which will begin with Game 1 on June 1. When the NBA playoffs start, every team left standing is on the same footing again, but the teams with the biggest targets on their backs are the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers.
NBA Playoff Seeding Rules
If teams finish the regular season with identical records in their respective conferences, there are specific NBA playoff seeding rules that come into play. The primary component will be head-to-head tiebreakers, as it typically comes down to teams that have played each other numerous times in the regular season. If the teams split a season series, the next tiebreakers (in order) are the higher winning percentage in conference games and then the higher winning percentage against playoff teams in that conference.
There are also NBA playoff seeding rules set up in case a three-team tiebreaker is needed. Division winners get the better seed no matter what else happens, but there are rules in case three non-division winners have identical records. The tiebreakers in those cases are the best head-to-head winning percentage among the three teams, the highest winning percentage in conference games, and then the highest winning percentage against playoff teams from that conference.
If the tie for a spot in the 2017 NBA playoff brackets is between divisional teams, the tiebreaker used after head-to-head games is the highest winning percentage within the division. Then they move to the highest winning percentage in conference games. More detailed information on all the NBA playoff seeding rules can be found in a report by NBA.com.
NBA Playoffs 2017 Predictions
Every major sports site made 2017 NBA playoffs predictions and its never too early to start looking at how the experts and analysts did in their projections. The NBA experts at CBS each took turns predicting how the NBA playoff bracket would look and then filled out those brackets. The report provides an interesting look at some teams in particular.
Ethan Skolnick predicted the Golden State Warriors beating the Los Angeles Clippers in the Western Conference Finals and the Cleveland Cavaliers beating the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference Finals. Skolnick then predicted the Warriors would win the title in seven games. Three other experts (Matt Moore, James Herbert, and Ananth Pandian) predicted the same 2017 NBA Finals matchup, with only Pandian siding with the Cavs.
Some interesting hits and misses in these 2017 NBA playoffs predictions include them all feeling the Portland Trail Blazers would make the postseason (they are No. 9 in the West) and only one of them thought the Chicago Bulls would even make the NBA Playoffs. The Bulls have a good shot at the No. 6 seed in the East, with Dwyane Wade, Rajon Rondo, and Jimmy Butler helping the team flourish this year.
Teams Just Missing Cut In 2017 NBA Playoff Standings
There are several teams that are just outside of the No. 8 seed when it comes to the latest NBA playoff standings. In the Western Conference, the Portland Trail Blazers are one-and-a-half games back from the Denver Nuggets. The Sacramento Kings and Dallas Mavericks are each two-and-a-half games back. In the Eastern Conference, the Miami Heat and Milwaukee Bucks trail the No. 8 seeded Detroit Pistons by one-and-a-half games. Any of these teams could go on a hot streak to finish out the regular season and sneak into the final 2017 NBA playoff standings.
[Featured Image by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images]