NBA Play-In Tournament Bracket: How the playoff picture looks heading into stretch run

Updating the NBA Play-In Tournament bracket and projects as the stretch run begins across the league.

Orlando Magic v Atlanta Hawks
Orlando Magic v Atlanta Hawks / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages
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The West Play-In Tournament picture

It's almost equally a tight race in the Western Conference with the 5th and 10th seed only being separated by four games in the loss column. The next few weeks will be critical for every team in this race as they look to avoid having to win their way into the postseason via the Play-In Tournament. Here's what the West Play-In Tournament playoff picture looks like at the moment:

5. New Orleans Pelicans (35-24)
6. Phoenix Suns (34-24)
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7. Sacramento Kings (33-24)
8. Dallas Mavericks (33-25)
9. Golden State Warriors (30-27)
10. Los Angeles Lakers (31-28)

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11. Utah Jazz (27-32)
12. Houston Rockets (25-33)

The top 4 of Oklahoma City Thunder, Minnesota Timberwolves, Denver Nuggets, and LA Clippers have done a good job of separating themselves from the rest in the West playoff picture but there's still much to be settled for the rest of the playoff hopefuls. At the bottom of the standings, the Utah Jazz and Houston Rockets have an outside chance at making the Play-In Tournament but they'll need a collapse from one of the other teams.

That leaves the Pelicans, Suns, Kings, Mavericks, Warriors, and Lakers fighting for seeding. The Warriors and Lakers seem to be locked for a Play-In spot at this point, unless they get extremely hot down the stretch, with the Pelicans, Suns, Kings, and Mavs battling for the 5th and 6th seeds.

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Again, a lot can change, especially when there aren't many games separating these teams in the standings, down the stretch. It should be an interesting end to the season.