NBA

2021 NBA Play-In Tournament matchups

The NBA's 72 game regular season is over, and we now know the eight teams that will take part in the first ever Play-In tournament which starts May 18th.

NBA Play-In Tournament games
David Berding AFP

The shortened 72 game NBA regular season has come to a close, and the eight teams that have qualified for the first ever Play-In Tournament will have a day to rest before jumping into the inaugural knock out tournament.

The seven through tenth placed teams in each conference will fight for the final two spots in the first round of the NBA playoffs in the Eastern and Western Conference.

The idea behind the tournament was to create drama and excitement during the final stretch of the regular season, and that is exactly what it did up until the final minute of the final game of the 72 game slate.

Now that the regular season has officially ended, the matchups are set of the Play-In Tournament. There are some big names and monumental matchups that await us in the first ever knock out tournament,

Eastern Conference

There hasn’t been too much movement in the standings for the four teams that qualified for the Play-In tournament in the East. The Celtics, Pacers, Hornets, and Wizards have looked destined for a date in the first ever tournament for the last few weeks, the only question was where each team would end up and who would play who.

Wizards-Celtics

The seven-eight match up will feature the Boston Celtics and the Washington Wizards. The Wizards had a dreadful start to the year losing eight of their first ten games after bringing in Russel Westrbrook in the offseason.

There was a lot of buzz around the nations capital coming into the campaign but it took the Wizards almost the entirety of the season to find their form and hit stride. A fantastic April in which they went 12-2 over a three week span propelled them up the standings, Bradley Beal, Russel Westbrook and the rest of the Wizards finished off the regular season winning four of their final six.

The Boston Celtics have gone quietly about their business without making a lot of noise in the Eastern Conference. Their record speaks to what they have been this year. At 36-36 the Celtics were the depiction of mediocrity in this shortened NBA regular season. Despite losing four of their final six games they finish in seventh place and will host the Wizards in the one off game for the No. 7 seed.

Hornets-Pacers

The Hornets have been a far cry from fantastic this year, but they have made quite a stir in Lamelo Ball’s first year in Charlotte. The boys from Buzz city are one of the flashiest most highlight worthy teams in the league, but that hasn’t always resulted in W’s for Michale Jordan’s franchise.

It looks as if they will be without one of their stars of the show, Gordon Hayward who has been inactive since early April. The Hornets are limping into the Play-In on the heels of a five game losing streak to close out the regular season.

The Pacers have been anything but flashy this year, and have been hampered with injuries of late. They have one of the top big men in the game in Domantas Sabonis, but could be without their top scorer Malcom Brogdon who has been bothered by a bad hamstring in recent weeks.

Indiana beat the Toronto to earn the ninth position in the standings and host the Hornets in Bankers Life Fieldhouse as the winner will play the loser of the Celtics-Wizards contest.

Western Conference

Warriors-Lakers

It’s a matchup that many at the beginning of the year believed had potential to be the Western Confernce Final, the the Warriors and the Lakers will meet in the seventh-eighth placed game in the Play-In Tournament.

The Warriors had a disappointing start to their season. Despite having a core that consists of the splash brothers and Draymond Green, nothing was clicking for the trio at the beginning of the campaign.

They were dealt another blow in February when Klay Thomspon suffered a torn achilles that will keep him out until next season. But the Warriors, as they have done so often in the Steve Kerr era, have turned it on at the right time losing just four game since the beginning of April.

It perhaps hasn’t been the dream season for the Warriors, but as Draymond Green reminded interviewers a few days ago, “We have f***ing Steph Curry” and this is Curry’s prime time.

The Los Angeles Lakers built a super team two years ago in hopes of winning not just one multiple championships. This season they have had trouble keeping their stars on the court at the same time.

Anthony Davis suffered a calf injury earlier in the year that kept him out for nearly half of the 72 game regular season. LeBron James has been bothered by an ankle injury he suffered in mid March, but both have had time to heal and rest before the post season begins, which is great news for the Lakers and bad news for anyone that stands in their way.

Grizzlies-Spurs

The San Antonio Spurs are not the Spurs of yesteryear that we became so accustomed to seeing make a run for the NBA title. But one thing to remember is they still have Greg Popovich,

“Pop” will certainly not be pleased at how the Spurs ended the regular season, losing ten of their last twelve but if DeMar DeRozan and Dejounte Murray can find their form the Spurs could be a dangerous team with Popovic at the helm.

The Grizzlies ended the season on a high note will host the Spurs after winning six of their final eight games to secure a spot in the Play-In Tournament.

Ja Morant leads Memphis in scoring at a shade under 20 points per game. The Grizzlies will need their star, and face of the franchise to step up and take the team on his shoulders if they want to get out of the Play-In and into the first round of the playoffs.