Piston Powered updated the lottery projections on Wednesday, and there’s both good news and bad news for the Sixers. Their odds of landing the #11 pick dropped from 66 percent to 51 percent, but their odds of landing the #12 pick rose from six percent to almost 28 percent. (Again, these projections were updated on Wednesday.)
Tonight’s game against the Wizards could shake up the lottery scene. Washington is just two games behind Philly in the standings and its last game of the season is against a reeling Chicago team that could be resting key players before the playoffs.
The Sixers currently have the 11th-worst record in the league, but if they catch every break (and I mean EVERY break – Washington, Toronto, and Minnesota would all have to finish at least 3-1 while the Sixers lose out), they could finish as low as 8th. From the 11th slot, they have a 2.9 percent chance of leapfrogging into the top three picks. From the 8th slot, that jumps to a 10.0 percent chance.
As done in the previous Tank Ranks, I use the metric SRS (a combination of scoring margin and strength of schedule) to determine win probabilities for each game, and I rank the teams accordingly, with subjective adjustments based on various tanking practices. (See the Week 2 Tank Rank for an explanation of the system.)
1. Sacramento Kings (28-50)
Schedule: Friday at San Antonio (14.8%); Sunday at Houston (20.3%); Monday at Oklahoma City (12.4%); Wednesday vs. LA Clippers (30.2%)
The Kings have the hardest schedule of any team I’ve charted over the last five weeks; their expected cumulative win percentage is below 20 percent. The back-to-back at Houston then Oklahoma City is the most difficult two-game stretch I’ve seen.
Expected Win-Loss: 0.78-3.22 (.194)
2. Phoenix Suns (24-55)
Schedule: Saturday at Minnesota (29.1%); Monday vs. Houston (32.8%); Wednesday at Denver (15.1%)
The Suns have locked up the lowest seed in the West, but they can still duke it out with Cleveland for the league’s third-worst record overall (Charlotte and Orlando will finish 1-2 in some order). This week’s schedule certainly won’t hurt their chances of falling to the 3 spot.
Expected Win-Loss: 0.77-2.23 (.257)
3. Cleveland Cavaliers (24-54)
Schedule: Friday vs. New York (29.7%); Sunday at Philadelphia (33.1%); Monday vs. Miami (22.5%); Wednesday at Charlotte (52.4%)
The 22.5% win probability against Miami is a bit misleading – Kyrie Irving returned to the lineup for the Cavs, and the Heat have been resting their stars in preparation for the playoffs. Still, Miami should be favored.
Expected Win-Loss: 1.38-2.62 (.344)
4. Washington Wizards (29-50)
Schedule: Friday vs. Philadelphia (64.1%); Monday at Brooklyn (29.5%); Wednesday at Chicago (32.7%)
As mentioned above, Washington could give the Sixers a huge lift if they win out, and that’s not out of the question if Brooklyn and Chicago decide resting key players is more important than fighting for seeding in Round 1.
Expected Win-Loss: 1.26-1.74 (.421)
5. Philadelphia 76ers (31-47)
Schedule: Friday at Washington (35.9%); Sunday vs. Cleveland (66.9%); Monday at Detroit (41.5%); Wednesday @ Indiana (21.2%)
The game Sunday against Cleveland should scare the pro-tanking Sixers fans. They should lose the other three games on their own merit (or lack thereof), but they’ll really need to lose out if they want to get in the top 10 of the lottery.
Expected Win-Loss: 1.66-2.34 (.414)
6. Minnesota Timberwolves (29-49)
Schedule: Friday at Utah (33.7%); Saturday vs. Phoenix (70.9%); Monday vs. Utah (54.0%); Wednesday at San Antonio (18.8%)
Kevin Love won’t be returning; the Wolves shut him down on Monday for the remainder of the season. Despite that, Minnesota should still beat Phoenix, and the San Antonio road game could be winnable assuming the Spurs rest their stars. The Jazz, still fighting for the 8 seed out west, play the Wolves twice. Both should be losses for Minnesota.
Expected Win-Loss: 1.77-2.23 (.443)
7. Toronto Raptors (30-48)
Schedule: Friday vs. Chicago (52.6%); Sunday vs. Brooklyn (48.7%); Tuesday at Atlanta (31.8%); Wednesday vs. Boston (54.2%)
An interesting situation here – the Raptors have looked awful lately, but they’ll play four playoff teams that haven’t looked particularly good. Plus, some of those teams could also end up resting key players before the postseason starts.
Expected Win-Loss: 1.87-2.13 (.468)
8. New Orleans Hornets (27-52)
Schedule: Friday vs. LA Clippers (33.8%); Sunday vs. Dallas (53.7%); Wednesday at Dallas (33.4%)
I’d say 0-3 given the Anthony Davis Injury — he tweaked his knee and will likely miss all three games. But Dallas won’t have anything to play for in those last two games. Literally nothing. They’ll be locked into the 14th-worst record.
Expected Win-Loss: 1.21-1.79 (.403)
9. Detroit Pistons (27-52)
Schedule: Friday vs. Charlotte (74.6%); Monday vs. Philadelphia (58.5%); Wednesday at Brooklyn (24.6%)
Charlotte should be an easy win, while the Philly and Brooklyn matchups are tossups. (There’s a solid chance the Nets sit Brook Lopez, Deron Williams, & co. in the season finale.)
Expected Win-Loss: 1.58-1.42 (.526)