NBA lottery odds: Remaining schedules for teams atop reverse standings

·8 min read

Entering the home stretch of the season, the Oklahoma City Thunder only have five more games to move as far up the NBA draft lottery odds as they can.

On the second-to-last Friday of the season, the Thunder had the fourth-best odds — but two teams were just half a game behind them in the reverse standings.

The 2 through 6 spots in the NBA draft lottery are wide open as the Detroit Pistons, Minnesota Timberwolves, Thunder, Cleveland Cavaliers and Orlando Magic fight for position.

This week, we’ll take a look at the remaining schedule of each team near the top of the reverse standings. There will be a focus on the Thunder, the Houston Rockets and the Miami Heat.

The Rockets’ pick goes to the Thunder if it is not top-4. The Heat’s pick goes to OKC if the Thunder do not receive Houston’s.

Lottery odds are via Tankathon and Wikipedia. Numbers and records are accurate as of Friday morning.

T5th-best odds: Orlando Magic (21-45, 0.5 games ahead of Thunder)

Uh-oh. The Magic beat the Memphis Grizzlies and then won the tank-tastic game against the Detroit Pistons. With those two wins, Orlando moved from a tie for the third-best odds all the way down to a tie for the fifth-best. This moved them half a game behind the Thunder. Here is the Magic's remaining schedule:

  • Charlotte Hornets (32-34)

  • Minnesota Timberwolves (20-46)

  • Milwaukee Bucks (42-24)

  • Atlanta Hawks (37-31)

  • Philadelphia 76ers (45-21)

  • Philadelphia 76ers (45-21)

That's a very difficult schedule for the Magic, who face a Hornets team trying to stay in eighth place, a Hawks team in the middle of a battle around seeds 4-7, and two of the best Eastern Conference teams. It's worth noting that if the Sixers have locked up the top seed in the Eastern Conference, they may rest Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons in one or both of those final games. Lottery odds for 6 (if no tie):

1

2

3

4

6

7

8

9

10

6.0%

6.3%

6.7%

7.2%

34.5%

32.1%

6.7%

0.4%

>0.0%

T5th-best odds: Cleveland Cavaliers (21-41, 0.5 games ahead of Thunder)

The Cavaliers very nearly beat the Phoenix Suns before collapsing in overtime. Good for their lottery odds, bad for the Thunder. Cleveland lost all four games over the past week, good enough to remain just half a game back from OKC. Here is their remaining schedule:

  • Dallas Mavericks (38-28)

  • Dallas Mavericks (38-28)

  • Indiana Pacers (31-35)

  • Boston Celtics (35-31)

  • Washington Wizards (31-36)

  • Brooklyn Nets (43-24)

The Mavericks are just one game up on the Lakers and can secure a firmer hold on the fifth seed with a pair of wins. The Pacers and Wizards could both conceivably reach eighth place, but neither should fall below 10. The Celtics, like the Hawks, are battling out the 4-7 positions. If the Nets are locked into the second seed, they could rest their stars in the final game of the season. Lottery odds for 5 (if no tie):

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10.5%

10.5%

10.6%

10.5%

2.2%

19.6%

26.7%

8.7%

0.6%

4th-best odds: Oklahoma City Thunder (21-46)

After picking up a win two weeks ago, the Thunder righted the ship by going 0-4 this week. A one-game swing could put them anywhere from second- to sixth-best odds, so expect the losing to continue. Here's their schedule:

  • Golden State Warriors (34-33)

  • Sacramento Kings (29-37)

  • Sacramento Kings (29-37)

  • Utah Jazz (48-18)

  • Los Angeles Clippers (45-22)

After seeing the Warriors take down the Thunder on Thursday, expectations dictate that they should win again. OKC played Sacramento well earlier this week, so they are at risk of winning one of those games. The Jazz will likely be duking it out with the Suns for first seed in the Western Conference, so this is a losable game. The Clippers game will be the biggest question mark. They're the third seed, just 0.5 games ahead of the Denver Nuggets. Denver faces the Jazz and Nets this weekend, but sees the Timberwolves and Pistons next week, so it's not easy to predict how many games they'll win. If the Nuggets lose to both the Jazz and the Nets, LA may have a tight enough hold on the third seed that they can rest their starters against the Thunder. OKC fans, keep your fingers crossed that LA needs to try on May 16. Lottery odds for 4:

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

12.5%

12.2%

11.9%

11.5%

7.2%

25.7%

16.7%

2.2%

3rd-best odds: Minnesota Timberwolves (20-46, 0.5 games behind Thunder)

Minnesota nearly won both games it played over the past week. The team put up 136 points against the New Orleans Pelicans, but allowed 140. Then the Timberwolves scored 135 points against the Grizzlies, but gave up 139. In the end, they did what they needed to do. Minnesota remains 0.5 games worse than the Thunder with one fewer game played than OKC. Their remaining schedule is:

  • Miami Heat (35-31)

  • Orlando Magic (21-45)

  • Detroit Pistons (20-47)

  • Denver Nuggets (44-22)

  • Boston Celtics (35-31)

  • Dallas Mavericks (38-28)

The Heat and Celtics are tied for sixth seed in the Eastern Conference, so both are hoping to get out of the seventh-seed range. The front offices of Orlando and Detroit will do all they can to make sure their respective team does not try. Denver has its eyes on the third seed, and a win here would help. Dallas, as addressed earlier, is trying to fend off the Lakers and Portland Trail Blazers, who are pursuing the fifth seed. Those games against the Magic and Pistons will dictate Minnesota's spot in the draft lottery. With flattened odds, they'd be content to stay in third -- but if they win too many, they'd drop to fourth or fifth. Lottery odds for 3 (if no tie)

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

14.00%

13.42%

12.75%

11.97%

14.84%

26.00%

7.02%

2nd-best odds: Detroit Pistons (20-47, 1.0 games behind Thunder)

The Pistons' win over the Grizzlies on Thursday creates intrigue. Suddenly, their top-three pick is not so secure. Detroit had a chance to put some distance between themselves and the trailing Timberwolves and Thunder, but with the win, the team is now only half a game above Minnesota and one game above OKC. Will they win again? Here's their schedule:

  • Philadelphia 76ers (45-21)

  • Chicago Bulls (27-39)

  • Minnesota Timberwolves (20-46)

  • Denver Nuggets (44-22)

  • Miami Heat (35-31)

The Philly game should be a loss for Detroit. The Bulls are probably out of the race, but mathematically they're not, and they don't even own their draft pick so they will be trying. The Timberwolves/Pistons matchup on Tuesday, as addressed above, could decide this seed. Denver will likely be fighting for positioning in the Western Conference, and if the Heat are still in the seventh spot but have a chance to bounce up with a win, expect them to try, too. Lottery odds for 2:

1

2

3

4

5

6

14.00%

13.42%

12.75%

11.97%

27.84%

20.02%

Best odds: Houston Rockets (16-47, 5.0 games behind Thunder)

For Oklahoma City to overtake the Houston Rockets, OKC would have to lose every game and the Rockets would have to win every game. With a 4.5 game lead over the Thunder and 3.5 over the second-worst Pistons, Houston is one of the only teams in the NBA that knows where it will end up. For fun, here are their final six games:

  • Milwaukee Bucks (42-24)

  • Utah Jazz (48-18)

  • Portland Trail Blazers (37-29)

  • Los Angeles Lakers (37-29)

  • Los Angeles Clippers (45-22)

  • Atlanta Hawks (37-31)

Yeah, there are at least two losses in here. Houston will have a 52.1% chance of keeping their pick and a 47.9% chance of losing it to the Thunder. Lottery odds for 1:

1

2

3

4

5

14.00%

13.42%

12.75%

11.97%

47.84%

Miami Heat: 17th pick (35-31)

If the Thunder do not get the Rockets pick, they will receive that of the Heat. Miami went 2-1 over the past week and are tied with the Celtics for sixth and seventh place in the Eastern Conference. Both teams are desperate to escape seventh seed and the play-in game. Not only that, but fourth seed is within reach. The New York Knicks are only two games ahead of the Heat and Celtics, creating an opportunity not just to avoid a play-in game but the chance to capture home-court advantage. The Knicks, Hawks, Celtics and Heat are all vying for positioning between 4 and 7. Right now, the Knicks would pick No. 21 in the draft, so that appears to be the top of the range that OKC might pick from. Here is Miami's schedule:

  • Minnesota Timberwolves (20-46)

  • Boston Celtics (35-31)

  • Boston Celtics (35-31)

  • Philadelphia 76ers (45-21)

  • Milwaukee Bucks (42-24)

  • Detroit Pistons (20-47)

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