Who will rise in the table and who will fall behind?



If the NBA season ends today – and believe me, I know it doesn't, but for the sake of this exercise, play along because these are realistic playoff scenarios – either the Los Angeles Lakers or the Golden State Warriors miss the playoffs.

And it's possible neither makes the playoffs unless they escape the depths of the play-in game.

Today the Warriors are in 10Th place at 41-34, and the Lakers are in ninth place at 43-33. The winner of the 9-10 game plays the loser of the 7-8 game for eighth place, while the winner of the 7-8 game gets seventh place.

If the Lakers or Warriors make it as a No. 8 seed, they will play either Oklahoma City, Denver or Minnesota in the first round.

Let's take a look at who advances and who falls in the Eastern Conference and Western Conference playoffs.

NBA teams are rising

Since February 5, the Mavericks are 19-7. That's the second-best winning percentage, and the Mavs have the No. 4 offense, and most importantly to their postseason success, the Mavs have the No. 8 defense at this stage.

Luka Doncic has averaged a triple-double (32.5 points, 10.2 assists and 10.1 rebounds) over the past two months, and Kyrie Irving has averaged 25.5 points, 5, over the past two months. 1 assists and 4.7 rebounds while shooting 51.8% from the field and 41.5% from 3s Trade deadline acquisitions Daniel Gafford and PJ Washington are both averaging at least 11 points.

The Mavs are tied with fifth-place New Orleans and two behind the fourth-place Los Angeles Clippers.

Oklahoma City, Denver, Minnesota

At the top of the West, it's crowded and competitive. The Nuggets, Thunder and Timberwolves are separated by half a game for the top seed.

Denver is in first place because they have played one more game and won one more than the other two teams, and Oklahoma City has a 7-3 record in their last 10 games and Minnesota has an 8-2 record.

Denver and Minnesota play each other on April 10 and the Thunder have completed play against both teams. In head-to-head tiebreakers, the Thunder have the tiebreaker over Denver and Minnesota and Minnesota has the tiebreaker over Denver until the outcome of their remaining game is determined.

In a three-way tie, the tiebreaker is in the hands of the Thunder today.

Lakers, Warriors

Both teams are 7-3 in their last 10 games, and the Warriors have won five games in a row, giving them a two-game lead between them and 11 gamesTh-Place Houston. The Lakers and Warriors play each other on Tuesday.

The Lakers are just 1½ games behind Phoenix for eighth place and have a chance to catch the Suns. The Lakers own the tiebreaker against Phoenix.

Boston was on a strange two-game losing streak against Atlanta, but it is still 22-4 since losing to the Lakers on February 1st. The Celtics have the best record (59-16), the No. 1 offense, the No. 3 defense and the No. 1 net rating.

It's about getting another win for the franchise's 18th seasonTh Title and first since 2008.

Are the Heat still a dangerous team?

Miami is 7-3 in its last 10 games and has won three straight games. The Heat are a top-five defense, but only 21stst offensive. Can they make the playoffs? Well, it's Erik Spoelstra, Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, so… it's possible.

NBA teams fall

The Suns were tied for fifth place at the All-Star break with a record of 33-22. Now they're in seventh place at 44-31 and their remaining schedule is brutal: seven games against seven postseason teams, all of which have the same or better records.

The Suns are just one game behind Dallas and New Orleans for fifth place, but also just 1½ games ahead of the Lakers.

With 13 wins in 15 games they are 11thThThe second-place Houston Rockets closed the gap on Golden State and were just half a game behind the Warriors a week ago. But two straight losses to the Rockets and four straight wins to the Warriors put a distance between the two. Houston is three games behind Golden State, and it will be difficult to make up that gap in seven games. They play each other on Thursday, and even a Rockets win might not be enough, especially with Golden State owning the tiebreaker.

The Knicks have lost three straight games and are tied with fourth-place Orlando, 1½ games ahead of sixth-place Indiana and two games ahead of Miami. Injuries continue to plague the Knicks.

The Cavaliers are 4-6 in their last 10 games, with losses to Houston, Miami (twice) and Charlotte. In third place, the Cavs are 1½ games behind second-place Milwaukee and 1½ games ahead of Orlando and New York.

Since losing Joel Embiid to a knee injury in late January, the Sixers have fallen sharply in the standings. The good news for the Sixers is that Embiid returned on Tuesday and posted 24 points, seven assists, six rebounds and three steals in a 109-105 win over Oklahoma City.

Unless the eighth-seeded Sixers can clinch the sixth seed — they are two games behind Indiana and 1½ games behind Miami — they face a play-in game and a possible first-round series against Milwaukee.