2023 NBA Playoffs bracket: Current matchups as regular season ends

The NBA playoffs bracket–pending the results of the Play-In tournament–is set. And sure enough, the 2023 postseason is brewing to be another exciting affair with plenty of intriguing matchups to look forward to.

The Eastern Conference is pretty top-heavy, with the likes of the Milwaukee Bucks, Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers expected to dominate the rest of the competition. Out West, however, is a different story since it is pretty much wide open. There is no clear-cut favorite in the conference, and considering how deep the lower-seeded teams are, there are plenty of rooms for an upset and more.

Now as the regular season ends, let’s take a loot at the 2023 NBA playoffs bracket and the current matchups we have.

Eastern Conference

No. 1 Milwaukee Bucks vs. No. 8 Seed

The Bucks will have to wait for a few more days to know who they will be facing in the first round of the playoffs.

The winner of the Toronto Raptors-Chicago Bulls game will play the loser of the Miami Heat-Atlanta Hawks showdown to get that final playoff spot. All four teams pose interesting match-ups for Giannis Antetokounmpo and co., though none have shown the ability to really pose a threat to the 2020-21 NBA champions.

No. 2 Boston Celtics vs. No. 7 Seed

Like Milwaukee, the Boston Celtics need to wait the results of the Play-In meeting between the Heat and Hawks. As things currently stand, there’s a good chance the Beantown team gets pitted against Miami, who has dominated its seasons series with Atlanta 3-1.

A battle with the Heat could prove to be difficult for Boston, especially since the Celtics had a hard time beating them during the regular season. The C’s definitely have the edge considering their depth, but don’t expect them to make easy work of the Vice City franchise should they really end up facing each other.

No. 3 Philadelphia 76ers vs. No. 6 Brooklyn Nets

Props to the Brooklyn Nets for maintaining a playoff position despite the midseason trades that saw Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving depart the team. No one expected them to hold on to an automatic playoff qualification spot after they basically blew up their core.

However, there is no denying that the Philadelphia 76ers possess overwhelming talent that they just couldn’t match. Admit it or not, Brooklyn the odd man out among all playoff contenders in the East. They lack the star power to compete, and it’s hard to see them slow down Joel Embiid and co.

Philly swept the season series with Brookly, winning all four games including their first two when the team still had both Durant and Irving.

No. 4. Cleveland Cavaliers vs. No. 5 New York Knicks

This Cleveland Cavaliers-New York Knicks fight in the middle of the pack could certainly become one of the most exciting battle in the East. The Cavs have homecourt advantage and are 31-10 at home to finish the regular season, so they have that going for them in this series.

However, the ‘Bockers have always been a thorn to the Cavs’ side, with New York going 3-1 against Cleveland on the season. Jalen Brunson seemingly loves playing against Donovan Mitchell and the Wine and Gold as well, and we all know what happened the last time JB met Mitchell in the postseason.

New York’s playoff experience could also bode well in their chances of pulling off a stunner against a Cavs team that is making the postseason for the first time in the post-LeBron James era.

Western Conference

No. 1 Denver Nuggets vs. No. 8 Seed

The New Orleans Pelicans, Oklahoma City Thunder, Minnesota Timberwolves and Los Angeles Lakers are playing for the final two spots in the West. The winner of the Pelicans-Thunder Play-In game and loser of the Timberwolves-Lakers showdown will be facing the Denver Nuggets as the no. 8 seed.

Sure enough, while Denver can be confident with their chances since they have homecourt advantage and more rest, they will have to be wary of whoever they will meet. Out of all the four teams they could face, they only have a winning record against OKC. The Pels, Wolves and Lakers all went 2-2 against the Nuggets during the season.

Considering the way Denver has played recently as well–losing to the Houston Rockets, Phoenix Suns and Utah Jazz–Nikola Jokic and co. are looking more vulnerable than ever.

No. 2 Memphis Grizzlies vs. No. 7 Seed

The Memphis Grizzlies did well securing the second seed despite all the off-court controversies they faced, including the gun issue that led to Ja Morant’s suspension and lengthy absence. Unfortunately for them, things aren’t going to get easy right in the first round despite the fact that they got a higher seed.

If things stay the way they are, the Grizzlies could end up facing a dangerous Lakers side that is brimming with confidence. Steven Adams’ absence will surely be felt if they end up facing LA, especially with Anthony Davis having proven to be a major headache for them. The last time Memphis and LA met (early in March, without Morant), AD dominated with 30 points and outshined Jaren Jackson Jr.

Sure enough, Morant and co. wouldn’t want to face a well-experienced Lakers team right at the beginning of the postseason.

No. 3  Sacramento Kings vs. No. 6 Golden State Warriors

The Golden State Warriors’ road woes has been one of the biggest talking points heading to the 2023 NBA playoffs. Since they have fallen to the sixth seed, it means they won’t have homecourt advantage for most, if not the whole postseason. For a team that went 11-30 on the road during the campaign, that is definitely a big problem.

Perhaps it’s the reason why the Warriors targeted finishing as the sixth seed. Considering that they would have faced the Phoenix Suns had they ended up as the fifth seed, the Sacramento Kings definitely appear to be a more favorable match-up.

The Kings are making the playoffs for the first time since 2006, and so they don’t have much playoff experience. That could end up becoming their biggest downfall in what has been an otherwise phenomenal season. Still, it’s wrong to completely rule out Sacramento just because of their lack of experience. They are one of the best teams in the West, and there’s a good reason why.

No. 4 Phoenix Suns vs. No. 5 Los Angeles Clippers

In what should be one of the best series in this NBA playoffs bracket, the trifecta of Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Chris Paul play the trident of Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and Russell Westbrook.

The Phoenix Suns are one of the favorites to come out of the West and win the NBA championship, and for good reason. They are really top-heavy, and they have proven to be unbeatable when KD plays alongside Book and CP3. The trio have yet to prove that the can lead a team to the title, but there’s no denying that they can dominate. Amid the questions about their leadership, their basketball–if it clicks–can erase all those doubts.

Meanwhile, the Clippers’ playoff hopes leans on George’s availability. PG13 remains sidelined due to a knee injury, and LA has yet to reveal a clear timetable for his return. With or without PG, though, are we really writing off a team led by one of the best postseason performers in Kawhi Leonard?

2023 NBA Playoffs Schedule

The Play-In Tournament is set from April 11 to 14. After the seedings are decided following the series of Play-In games, the 2023 NBA playoffs will roll on.

The first round of the NBA Playoffs is scheduled on April 15.

*Stay tuned for more updates. This article will be updated as soon as the final NBA playoffs bracket is set following the play-in

The post 2023 NBA Playoffs bracket: Current matchups as regular season ends appeared first on ClutchPoints.

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