Less than two months are left in the 2021-22 NBA season, which is not a great thing for basketball fans. Several teams are rounding into form and should be locking up playoff berths pretty soon. Other teams are completely out of the playoff race and already thinking about where they'll take their summer vacations.
At the time of this publishing, the top three teams in the Eastern Conference include the Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls, and Philadelphia 76ers. Over in the Western Conference, the top three teams include the Golden State Warriors, Phoenix Suns, and Memphis Grizzlies.
The current odds to make the 2022 NBA Playoffs found below are from FanDuel Sportsbook. If a team is not listed they either have locked up a playoff spot, have been eliminated from the playoffs, or are on the verge of either making or being eliminated from the playoffs.
Odds from FanDuel Sportsbook
|Eastern Conference||Make Playoffs||Miss Playoffs|
|New York Knicks||+1800||-8000|
|Western Conference||Make Playoffs||Miss Playoffs|
|Los Angeles Lakers||-122||+100|
|Los Angeles Clippers||-144||+118|
|New Orleans Pelicans||+520||-800|
|San Antonio Spurs||+1200||-3500|
Instead of focusing on the teams that are likely going to earn a postseason berth, we will take a look at the teams whose championship odds aren’t that great, but have a chance of making it to the 16-team field in April.
But before we discuss the teams with playoff potential, here’s a look at a couple of teams who won’t be in the playoff hunt.
There was a reason why the Detroit Pistons had the top overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft. It’s because they are not a very good basketball team. It has been that way for quite some time. For example, they have won just 20 games in each of the last two seasons. Additionally, the Pistons have made the playoffs just twice over the past 10 seasons (2015-16 and 2018-19).
Those were the only two seasons that Detroit won more than 40 games. They've had a rough go of it all season long and they have dropped eight of their past 10 contests. As of right now, the Pistons have the next to worst record in basketball and that likely won’t change anytime soon.
While Cade Cunningham is putting up pretty decent numbers (15.3 points, 6.2 assists, and 5.2 rebounds per outing), his efforts won’t be enough to keep this team from missing the playoffs for the fifth time in six seasons.
Similar to the Pistons, the Orlando Magic aren’t a team to be overly excited about this season, either. They have three such occurrences in which they have recorded at least four consecutive losses.
The Magic are just 3-7 in their last 10 outings and they are ranked in the bottom third in both offense and defense. Taking those stats into consideration, it should not be much of a surprise that Orlando has the worst record in the NBA at 13-47.
If Orlando continues to play at its current pace, the team will win just 17 games. This would be the second time in three seasons in which they have won less than 22 games. That said, it’s safe to bet that this team will certainly miss the playoffs for the eighth time in 10 seasons.
Next up are a few teams who are worth betting on to make the playoff field in April. Here are four teams that may be worth considering a small wager on today.
In 2017-18, the Cleveland Cavaliers advanced to the NBA Finals for the fourth straight season. After that season, though, LeBron James took his talents to the Los Angeles Lakers. And since that season, the Cavaliers have been awful, to say the least. They have produced win totals of 19, 19, and 22 victories over the past three seasons. However, the Cavaliers have the fourth-best record in the Eastern Conference and they even lead the defending champion, Milwaukee Bucks, by a half-game.
While they are a middle-of-the-pack ball club, the Cavaliers are ranked second in both scoring defense and defensive efficiency. And if they can continue to perform well at the defensive end of the floor, the Cavaliers have more than an outside chance of snapping their three-year postseason drought. However, we cannot recommend betting the Cavs at the current -6000 number. Confidence meter: 10
The Charlotte Hornets’ last playoff appearance was back in 2015-16. That year, they won 48 games but were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs in seven games. Since that season, the Hornets haven’t won more than 39 games.
Additionally, they failed to qualify for the postseason in each of the past five seasons and have missed the playoffs in eight of the last 10 seasons. But despite their shortcomings, the Hornets hold the No. 10 spot in the conference playoff race, and they only trail the No. 8 Brooklyn Nets by 2.5 games.
On one hand, the Hornets aren’t considered a perennial playoff team. On the flip side of the coin, they fell just short of making the playoff last season as they lost in the play-in game. Given their almost .500 record through 60 games, their playoff hopes can go in either direction. Proceed with caution if you’re considering betting on this team to make the playoffs. Confidence meter: 3
The Minnesota Timberwolves are one of the more interesting teams on this list. During their first seven years in the league, they failed to make the playoffs. They followed up with a streak of eight consecutive playoff appearances from 1996-97 through 2003-04. Since then, Minnesota has missed the playoffs 13 straight times and the team has exactly one playoff berth on its resume which occurred in 2017-18.
Given those trends, it’s not a total shock that the Timberwolves have the eighth-lowest title odds. Even with that being said, Minnesota currently holds the No. 7 spot in the Western Conference. The T'Wolves should make the playoffs rather easily, but we cannot currently recommend betting them at the -500 price. Confidence meter: 8
After such a deep playoff run last year, it's a little weird to see the Hawks struggling so mightily this season. Even still, Atlanta is currently in 9th place in the Eastern Conference and they only trail the Nets by 2.5 games for the 8th spot.
Don't forget that the Nets just traded away James Harden and Kyrie Irving can still only play in road games. If Trae Young can get red hot for a few weeks, he can put this Hawks team on his back and get them to the playoffs. There's a decent amount of value in this +154 number so we'll recommend a small play on Atlanta to make the playoffs. Confidence Meter: 5