RIOT -- Major League Basketball Playoff Races

What Do the Numbers Mean?

Clinch Numbers

The clinch numbers provided by RIOT can be thought of as improved replacements for traditional magic numbers. They are superior since they use detailed information about teams' remaining schedules and the NBA's procedure for breaking two-team ties in the final standings in their calculation.

First Place Clinch Number

The first place clinch number is the most similar to the commonly reported magic number. If the team wins this number of additional games, it is guaranteed to finish the season with a better record than any of the other teams in its conference, or to win a two-team tiebreaker for first place in the conference.

An asterisk (*) indicates that even if this team wins all of its remaining games, it will not necessarily clinch first place in its conference. In this case the team does not have a first place clinch number.

Postseason Clinch Number

If a team wins this number of additional games, it is guaranteed a playoff berth. This could be as the conference winner or as one of the other top eight teams in the conference (including the possibility of winning a two-way tie-breaker for 8th place). As with the first place clinch number, an asterisk (*) indicates that even if this team wins all of its remaining games, it cannot guarantee itself a playoff berth.

Elimination Numbers

The elimination numbers provided by RIOT allow fans to determine whether or not teams have been eliminated from playoff contention, and how close they are to being eliminated.

First Place Elimination Number

This is the minimum number of games that this team must win in order to remain in contention for first place in its conference. Teams that are already eliminated from first place contention are labeled "Elim" in this box. See the list of frequently asked questions for an example of the distinction between the interpretations of the First Place Elimination Number and the First Place Clinch Number.

Playoff Elimination Number

This is the minimum number of games that this team must win in order to remain in contention for a playoff berth. Teams that are already eliminated from playoff contention are labeled "Elim" in this box.

Caveats

The method used to calculate the RIOT numbers takes the possibility that the team in question could be tied in the standings with one other team, but excludes the possibility of a tie with two or more other teams. The elimination numbers are conservative; it's possible that a team can stay in contention with fewer wins due to a scenario where they win the tiebreaker with multiple teams. Conversely the clinch numbers are technically lower limits on the number of games need to clinch first place or playoff berth.

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