Heading into its third edition, it’s clear that the NBA’s play-in tournament has been a massive success. More teams are trying and more games matter. In particular, the final week of this season was a barn-burner as the entire back half of the Western Conference playoff field jockeyed for position; just three games separate the fourth-seeded Suns from the ninth-seeded Pelicans. With the NBA play-in tournament set to begin this week, the Lakers, Timberwolves, Heat, Hawks, Pelicans, Thunder, Raptors and Bulls comprise a star-studded field. Here’s a look at the NBA play-in bracket in the Eastern and Western Conference and the matchups that are ahead.
Tuesday, April 11th
7:00pm or 7:30pm EST: No. 8 Atlanta Hawks at No. 7 Miami Heat
In a rematch of last year’s first-round playoff series, the Hawks will visit Miami in the first play-in game for the opportunity to win the seventh seed. The winner of this game will advance to the first-round of the playoffs and will face off against the second seeded Boston Celtics. While the Hawks enter the game as one of the NBA’s hottest teams with a top five offense since hiring new head coach Quinn Snyder, the Heat still a clear experience edge in this play-in matchup. The game will be broadcast on TNT.
9:30pm or 10:00pm: No. 8 Minnesota Timberwolves at No. 7 Los Angeles Lakers
With the Los Angeles Lakers beating the Utah Jazz and the Minnesota Timberwolves beating the New Orleans Pelicans, the West’s NBA play-in bracket is finally set. The Lakers and Timberwolves were two of the NBA’s best teams over the last few months of the season and could both make some noise in the playoffs, that is if they can survive the play-in. The winner of this game will become the seventh seed in the West and will play the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round. Same as the first half of the double-header, this game will be broadcast on TNT.
Wednesday, April 12th
7:00pm or 7:30pm EST: No. 10 Chicago Bulls at No. 9 Toronto Raptors
In the first elimination game of the 2023 NBA play-in tournament, the Bulls and Raptors will square off to keep their postseason dreams alive. As two of the NBA’s stingiest teams, the Bulls and Raptors both leaned heavily on their respective defenses to survive midseason slumps and qualify for the play-in. The winner of this game will move to next round of the play-in bracket while the loser will go home. The game will be shown on ESPN.
9:30pm or 10:00pm EST: No. 10 Oklahoma City Thunder vs. New Orleans Pelicans
Having lost to the Timberwolves, the Pelicans find themselves in a precarious spot in the play-in bracket, no longer having the luxury of double elimination. In this do-or-die game against the Thunder, the Pelicans will be without Zion Williamson, who was surprisingly ruled out of the play-in tournament after seeming like he was on track to play. This game will also be shown on ESPN.
Friday, April 14th
7 or 7:30pm EST: Winner of Bulls/Raptors at Loser of Hawks/Heat
In a battle for the final spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs, the winner of Wednesday’s Bulls/Raptors game will travel to the loser of Tuesday’s Hawks/Heat play-in game for a winner-take-all clash for the eighth seed and a first-round date with the Milwaukee Bucks This game will be shown on TNT.
9:30pm or 10:00pm EST: Winner of Thunder/Pelicans at Loser of Lakers/Timberwolves
The sixth and final game of the play-in tournament, this game will complete the 2023 playoff field and determine which team will face the top seeded Denver Nuggets in the playoffs. It will be aired on ESPN
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