We are ready to finally see the product of the NBA Play-In Tournament. Four teams in each conference are competing for the final two seeds in their respective conference. In the Eastern Conference it is Boston, Washington, Indiana and Charlotte. For the Western Conference it is the Lakers, Warriors, Grizzlies, and Spurs. For those that don’t know how the play-in tournament works, I will give you the step by step format for this tournament.
So the seventh seed and the eighth seed will meet to determine who will become the seventh seed for the respective conference. The winner of that game moves on to the post season and becomes the seventh seed. The loser of the game is not eliminated just yet though. As the ninth and the tenth seed will also play to see who will get the chance to remain and fight for the eighth seed. The loser is eliminated from the field. Finally, the winner of the 9/10 matchup takes on the loser of the 7/8 matchup. The winner of that game becomes the eighth seed in their respective conference and then the playoffs can begin. Now with the format out of the way here are my predictions for the play-in games that are already set in stone.
8 Washington Wizards vs 7 Boston Celtics
The 7th seed Boston Celtics host the 8th seed Washington Wizards. Boston has been hit by the injury bug for the majority of this season. They will be without Jaylen Brown for the rest of the season due to a wrist injury. It is going to be on Tatum’s shoulders for the majority of this playoff run. One thing to worry about as a Boston fan is the fact that the Wizards might be one of the hottest teams in basketball right now. Westbrook this season has broke the all-time record for most triple doubles in a career.
The Wizards are also 15-5 in their last 20 games. Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook are going to be on a tear in this one. Boston is going to struggle defensively against that duo. Kemba is going to need to be the second scorer for this team due to the fact that Jaylen Brown is out. If Kemba struggles to do his part, the Celtics will be on the brink of elimination.
Prediction: Washington wins 115-109
10 Charlotte Hornets vs 9 Indiana Pacers
The number 10 seed in the Eastern Conference Charlotte Hornets are traveling to Indiana to take on the ninth seed Pacers. Charlotte has been on a skid as of late. Down the stretch, the Hornets lost their last five straight and are 3-7 in the month of May so far. This team was playing for the 7 seed at one point, and now have found their way down fighting for a chance to stay alive in the playoffs.
Indiana on the other hand is a monster with Domantas Sabonis on the floor. Sabonis averaged 20.3 PPG to go along with 12 RPG and 6.7 APG as well. He has been the creator, the finisher, and the rebounding machine for the Pacers. His numbers should not go unnoticed, as he should easily be on one of the All-NBA teams. Both teams have struggled as of late, and this might be one of the most even matchups we could see in the play-in tournament.
Prediction: Indiana wins 108-105
8 Golden State Warriors vs 7 Los Angeles Lakers
The 8th seed in the Western Conference Golden State Warriors are going to Los Angeles to take on the 7th seed Lakers team. The key to this game is the health of LeBron and Anthony Davis. LeBron left the game on Sunday with that ankle injury again. This ankle injury is really affecting LeBron which is something that we haven’t seen in his career. If LeBron isn’t a 100 percent, the Warriors have an absolute chance of winning this matchup and becoming the 7th seed.
However, even though Stephen Curry’s MVP campaign has been a good one to watch this year; I think the Lakers can still be a tough out for the Warriors. Both teams have two chances to get into the playoffs, so I wouldn’t be stressed as a fan of either team. There will be a winner and there will be a loser in this game though.
Prediction: Los Angeles is the winner here 107-106
10 San Antonio Spurs vs 9 Memphis Grizzlies
The San Antonio Spurs have been through it all this year, and still find to manage their way into a chance at becoming a playoff team. In order to do that they have to go to Memphis and beat the Memphis Grizzlies. Memphis is 5-1 in their last six games. They lost to Golden State yesterday, but I think that is a good thing for them. The last thing you want to do is come into the post season on a winning streak especially in the play-in tournament.
I do like the matchup of Morant vs DeRozan as the top dogs collide in the elimination play-in game of the tournament. Will it be DeRozan’s last game as a San Antonio Spur? Does Ja have what it takes to take this team back to the playoffs? These are all questions that will be answered come Wednesday.
Prediction: Memphis barely beats San Antonio 116-114
-Chris Jones (@cjoneswho1212)
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