NBA Playoff Race: Panic Meter for Likely Play-In Teams

As the 2023-24 NBA season approaches its climax, the Western Conference’s play-in picture is heating up, with the Houston Rockets surging and putting pressure on the Golden State Warriors for the final spot. But it’s not just the Rockets causing panic among the likely play-in teams.

Basketball Reference’s Playoff Probabilities Report paints a clear picture of the playoff race, with four teams from each conference having a 60-plus percent chance to finish anywhere from seventh through 10th. While some teams like the Dallas Mavericks and Indiana Pacers are on the edge, the Rockets’ recent form has elevated them into the conversation.

Despite a recent comeback win over the Boston Celtics, the Atlanta Hawks are comfortably locked into 10th place in the East. With a sizable cushion over the 11th-place Brooklyn Nets, the Hawks are virtually assured of a play-in berth. The only drama lies with the Chicago Bulls, who are on a three-game losing streak and could potentially drop to ninth, but the Hawks remain stress-free given their position.

As the regular season winds down, nerves are running high for the likely play-in teams, with the prospect of facing off against stars like LeBron James or Stephen Curry in a do-or-die situation adding to the pressure. With playoff hopes hanging in the balance, every game becomes crucial, and the race for the play-in spots promises to deliver plenty of excitement and drama in the final stretch.


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