NBA Playoff Picture: Thunder jump Rockets in West after throttling Lakers; Celtics-76ers currently matched up

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Highlights: Thunder vs. Lakers
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Chris Paul and the Thunder blasted the Lakers Wednesday night to move percentage points in front of the Rockets for the No. 5 seed in the West. The Lakers have already cliched the No. 1 seed, but they have not been great in the bubble (2-2). Meanwhile, the Grizzlies dropped to 0-4 in the bubble and their lead over No. 9 Portland is down to one game. 

Here’s a full rundown of Wednesday’s bubble results:

Below is a look at where everything stands, from seeds to current matchups, entering play on Thursday, August 6. 

*This article will update at the conclusion of each night until the seeding games conclude.

Western Conference

1. Lakers

51-16 (–)

vs. Grizzlies

2. Clippers

45-22 (6 GB)

vs. Mavericks

3. Nuggets

45-23 (6.5 GB)

vs. Rockets

4. Jazz

43-25 (8.5 GB)

vs. Thunder

5. Thunder

42-25 (9 GB)

vs. Jazz

6. Rockets

42-25 (9 GB)

vs. Nuggets

7. Mavericks

41-29 (11.5 GB)

vs. Clippers

8. Grizzlies

32-37 (20 GB)

vs. Lakers

With Denver’s win over San Antonio on Wednesday, the Nuggets are now just a half game (one game in the loss column) behind the Clippers for the No. 2 seed. No. 7 Dallas is watching that closely. The Nuggets are no slouch, but the Mavs would definitely rather play them than the Clippers in round one. 

The Grizzlies, now 0-4 in the bubble, continue their free fall. As you’ll see below, Memphis is now up just one game on the No. 9 Blazers. With Jaren Jackson Jr. out for the season with a torn ACL, it feels like all the air has leaked out of the Grizzlies tires. 

The Jazz, Thunder and Rockets continue to shuffle seeds by the day. 

Race for No. 8

9. Trail Blazers

31-38

1 GB

10. Spurs

29-38

2 GB

11. Pelicans

29-38

2 GB

12. Suns

29-39

2.5 GB

13. Kings

28-39

3 GB

It certainly feels like the Blazers have the inside track on the No. 8 seed, but beating any team twice in a row in tough, so Portland would like to surpass Memphis before a potential play-in series. It’s very conceivable that two of these teams pass Memphis when it’s all said and done and wind up playing for the final spot. 

This race is a long way from over, however. The Blazers have a tough schedule coming up: Nuggets, Clippers, Sixers, Mavericks. The Pelicans get a softer slate with the Kings, Wizards, Spurs, Kings and Magic to close out their seeding games. That Spurs-Pelicans head-to-head could end up being huge. 

Eastern Conference

1. Bucks

54-14 (–)

vs. Magic

2. Raptors

49-18 (4.5 GB)

vs. Nets

3. Celtics

45-23 (9 GB)

vs. 76ers

4. Heat

43-25 (11 GB)

vs. Pacers

5. Pacers

42-26 (12 GB)

vs. Heat

6. 76ers

42-27 (13 GB)

vs. Celtics

7. Nets

32-36 (21.5 GB)

vs. Raptors

8. Magic

32-37 (22.5 GB)

vs. Bucks

The most interesting Eastern Conference race right now is for the No. 3 seed between Boston and Miami. As you can see, the Heat (2-1 in the bubble) are currently No. 4, but after beating the Celtics on Tuesday night they are just 1.5 games back of that third seed. If the Heat stay at No. 4, they would currently match up with Indiana in the first round. If they were to rise to No. 3, they would get Philly as it stands. 

Perhaps there’s not much difference in those first-round options, but moving up to No. 3 would put Miami on the opposite side of the bracket from Milwaukee, meaning they could avoid the Bucks until the conference finals. That said, No. 2 Toronto is starting to feel like an equally difficult second-round matchup. 

The Sixers are 2-1 in the bubble and have stayed in the No. 6 seed, which is fine with them as long as Boston stays at No. 3. The Sixers are 3-1 vs. Boston this season. If the Heat move up to No. 3, however, that could spell trouble for the Sixers, who are 1-3 vs. Miami this season. The matchups are entirely different for the Sixers. 

There is no race for the No. 8 seed in the East. The Wizards have been mathematically eliminated. 



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