The Eastern Conference playoff picture is coming together as the 2021-22 NBA season winds down, with the 10 teams taking part in the bracket likely set. That will get narrowed down to eight teams after the play-in tournament. However, seeding in the East is still up for grabs as the top seed Miami Heat are just 4.5 games up on the No. 5 seed Boston Celtics.
Some teams have already been eliminated from playoff contention, while others are close to seeing their postseason hopes officially end. Here’s a look at which teams are now playing for next year.
East teams eliminated from playoff contention
The Pistons were always going to be a lottery team, but they’ve got a nice core going forward with Cade Cunningham, Saddiq Bey, Jerami Grant and Marvin Bagley. We’ll see if this group can take a step forward in 2022-23.
The Magic have not been able to produce a winning season despite having a long list of high-potential players enter the team over the last few seasons. We’ll see how long this rebuild drags on, but Orlando does have some decent players with Jalen Suggs, Jonathan Isaac and Wendell Carter Jr.
The Pacers thought they would compete entering the season, but quickly pivoted to rebuilding mode once they saw how the team fit on the court. Malcolm Brogdon, Tyrese Haliburton, Isaiah Jackson and Chris Duarte form a nice core to build around, but Indiana still has some trades to make in the offseason to acquire future assets.
A year after making the playoffs, the Knicks have officially been eliminated from this year’s field. Expect a lot of changes in the Big Apple, starting with head coach Tom Thibodeau.
The season started with so much promise for the Wizards, but everything has come crashing down. Bradley Beal is rehabbing a wrist injury and the rest of the roster isn’t up to the mark, although that reportedly hasn’t deterred the shooting guard from demanding a trade or explore free agency options.