NBA playoff races: The favorites and long shots to watch

Ben Simmons on what's fueling the 76ers' success (1:47)

Ben Simmons sits down with Rachel Nichols to discuss how the 76ers are on top of the Eastern Conference. (1:47)

With the NBA playoffs just over a month away, now is a good time to take a look at where the key races stand and which teams are most likely to have to play their ways into the postseason brackets.

Remember, in this new play-in era, the postseason hunt in each conference is actually split into two: the race for a top-six spot -- guaranteeing entry into the playoff rounds -- and the race for seeds Nos. 7 through 10, which means one or two play-in wins will be necessary to earn the final No. 7 and No. 8 seeds.

Here are the teams in each conference with the most reasons for optimism and pessimism in the key seeding groups, plus which franchises will be fighting for every single win down the stretch.

The Eastern Conference