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The complete guide to the Charlotte Hornets tiebreaker scenarios

Four teams in the Eastern Conference are separated by one and a half games. What happens if they all tie?

Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

There is a little over a week until the end of the regular season, and the middle of the Eastern Conference playoffs is very tight. The four teams in the three through six seeds separate themselves by only a half game. More than likely tiebreakers are going to come into play to decide the final seeds.

Two team tiebreaker

Below is a graphic of the current standings. Red means the Charlotte Hornets do not hold the head-to-head tiebreaker. Yellow means the Hornets split the head-to-head tiebreaker. Green means... damn, the Hornets don't hold any head-to-head advantages over teams that are likely to matter in their playoff seeding.

Charlotte still has one more game with the Boston Celtics remaining on April 11 but the outcome won't affect the head-to-head tiebreaker.

The Hornets and the Heat need to use more tiebreakers to determine seeding if they finish with the same regular season record. The second tiebreaker goes to the division winner. Since the Hornets and the Heat are both in the same division, they would also be tied in division standings. Like Jay-Z would say, on to the next one.

The third tiebreak is division record. This would come into play if the Hornets and Heat finish with the same regular season record. Both teams have two more games against division opponents. The Hornets play at the Washington Wizards and at home against the Orlando Magic, while the Heat have a home and away with the Magic. If the Hornets lose at least one of those games or the Heat win at least one, then the Heat take the division record tiebreaker.

If the Hornets and the Heat need to go to a fourth tiebreaker, it would go to conference record. The Hornets currently hold a two and a half game lead over the Heat in conference record. All seven of the remaining games for the Hornets are against conference opponents, while only the final six games for the Heat are with division foe.

The fifth tiebreaker is determined by winning percentage against playoff teams in the Eastern Conference. Since these have the potential to change between now and next Wednesday, I won't bore you with hypotheticals. At the bottom of this page are the tiebreak guidelines.

Three team tiebreaker

Things get crazier in a three-way tiebreak scenario. Let's take a look at all of these scenarios.

If the Hawks, Heat, and Hornets tie: They would be seeded Heat then Hawks then Hornets. This is based on each team's combined record against the other two.

If the Hawks, Celtics, and Hornets tie: They would be seeded Hawks then Celtics then Hornets. The Hawks win based on division winner, and then the Celtics beat out the Hornets on head-to-head.

If the Heat, Celtics, and Hornets tie: Sub out "Hawks" for "Heat" in the above paragraph and that is what happens. This is rather ridiculous since the Celtics own the head-to-head tiebreakers over both the Heat and the Hornets, but I guess they had to make winning your division matter in some form.

Four team tiebreaker

This works the same as the three team tiebreaker with just an additional team. The Heat would be seeded first. The Heat would be the only division winner (based on combined head-to-head records with the Hawks and Hornets). The next tiebreaker is combined head-to-head. If the Celtics lose either of their remaining two games against the Hawks or the Hornets, then the seeds would be (Heat first) Hawks then Celtics then Hornets.

If the Celtics sweep the Hornets and Hawks remaining games, then the seeds would be (Heat first) Celtics then Hawks then Hornets.

As you can see, the Hornets don't come out on top in any of these tiebreak scenarios minus the fourth tiebreaker with the Heat (if it gets that far). Charlotte needs to focus on what they can control. Below is a glimpse of the remaining strength of schedule for these four teams.


Remaining Home

Remaining Away

Against Current Playoff Team

















None of these four teams has an easy remaining schedule. The Hornets need to worry about their performance and on winning as many of the remaining games as possible. The rest will play itself out.