How the play-in match works

From the present seeds to all of the potential tiebreakers, that is how the NBA play-in match works.

When is the NBA’s play-in match?

The play-in match runs from Might 18-21, starting two days after the common season ends.

How does the play-in match work?

The seventh-place workforce in each conferences hosts the eighth-place workforce. The winner advances because the seventh seed to face the No. 2 seed within the first spherical of the playoffs, that are scheduled to start Might 22.

The ninth-place workforce in each conferences hosts the Tenth-place workforce. The loser of that sport is eradicated.

The loser of the 7-8 sport then hosts the winner of the 9-10 sport to find out the No. 8 seed.

Who’s going to be within the match?

Seeding prime to backside in each conferences continues to be to be decided within the ultimate week of the common season. The races in every convention for fifth and sixth place — the ultimate two assured playoff spots — ought to be wild. On the intense aspect, no workforce is at actual danger of falling out of the match fully, which means the ninth- and Tenth-place groups are all however assured extra significant basketball, barring an enormous collapse.

Russell Westbrook with the ball in his hands in a shooting motion.
Russell Westbrook is on the verge of constructing historical past, matching Oscar Robertson’s triple-double mark, and has the Washington Wizards within the hunt for the play-in match. (Will Newton/Getty Photos)

The related standings:

Jap Convention

5. Atlanta Hawks (37-31)

6. Miami Warmth (37-31)

7. Boston Celtics (35-33)

8. Charlotte Hornets (33-35)

9. Washington Wizards (32-36)

10. Indiana Pacers (31-36)

Western Convention

5. Dallas Mavericks (40-28)

6. Portland Path Blazers (39-29)

7. Los Angeles Lakers (38-30)

8. Golden State Warriors (35-33)

9. Memphis Grizzlies (34-33)

10. San Antonio Spurs (32-35)

What if groups end with an identical information?

The identical order of tiebreakers which have at all times utilized to playoff seeds are nonetheless related to the match.

Two-team tiebreaker:

1. Head-to-head file

Three (or extra)-team tiebreaker:

1. Division winner

2. Mixed head-to-head file

3. Division win proportion (if similar division)

4. Intra-conference win proportion

5. Intra-conference win proportion towards playoff groups

6. Level differential

Wait, divisions nonetheless matter within the NBA?

They do! The league not ensures residence playoff sequence to division winners, but it surely didn’t abandon division information as a type of seeding tiebreakers. Solely two races matter because it pertains to the match.

The Mavericks will win a quite sorry Southwest Division, which might give them a tiebreaker within the uncommon occasion they end the season with the identical file as each the division also-ran Blazers and Lakers. That might imply the distinction between a fifth seed and a play-in match spot within the Western Convention.

Within the East, the Southeast Division title comes right down to Atlanta and Miami. The Hawks gained the season sequence and can win the division within the occasion the Warmth personal an an identical file. If a 3rd workforce finishes with the identical file, Atlanta owns the tiebreaker — probably the distinction between a playoff seed or play-in bid.

Who owns which head-to-head tiebreakers?

Groups solely performed their intra-conference rivals thrice this season as an alternative of the customary 4, which simplifies the two-team tiebreaking course of. Related head-to-head information for the play-in are as follows:


• Miami gained its season sequence with Atlanta, 2-1.

• Atlanta gained its season sequence with Boston, 2-1.

• The season sequence between Boston and Miami is tied, 1-1. The Celtics host the Warmth on Tuesday.

• Boston gained its season sequence with Charlotte, 2-1.

• Charlotte gained its season sequence with Indiana, 2-1, and Washington, 2-1.

• Washington gained its season sequence with Indiana, 3-0.


• Dallas gained its season sequence with the Lakers, 2-1.

• Portland gained its season sequence with Dallas, 2-1.

• Portland gained its season sequence with the Lakers, 2-1.

• The season sequence between Memphis and Golden State is tied, 1-1. The Warriors host the Grizzlies on Might 16.

• Golden State gained its season sequence with San Antonio, 2-1.

• Memphis gained its season sequence with San Antonio, 2-1.

What could be the very best play-in matchup?

Straightforward: the Lakers and Warriors. There’s a actual likelihood Golden State sensation Stephen Curry may meet LeBron James and the defending champions with playoff stakes on the road in a one-game showdown — possibly even a loser-goes-home situation. It has been three years since Curry and James met of their fourth consecutive Finals. That matchup had grown drained by 2018, if solely as a result of a Warriors win felt inevitable, however now that Curry and Draymond Inexperienced could be thought-about underdogs, a rivalry is able to be renewed.

Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry, left, pressures Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James.

Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry, left, pressures Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James throughout the first half of their sport on Jan. 18, 2021 in Los Angeles. The 2 groups could possibly be headed for a date within the play-in match. (AP Photograph/Jae C. Hong)

What’s the chance a ninth- or Tenth-place workforce makes the playoffs?

If all groups have been created equal in a impartial surroundings, the seventh- and eighth-place groups would every have a 50% likelihood of constructing the playoffs. The ninth- and Tenth-place groups would each have a 25% shot.

As a result of groups are usually not filling arenas throughout the coronavirus pandemic, it’s unclear how large home-court benefit will likely be within the play-in match. Historically, residence groups within the NBA have gained roughly 57% of regular-season video games. Over the course of this season, that quantity dipped to 53%. Once more, if all groups have been equal, utilizing this 12 months’s residence/street determine, the Tenth-place workforce’s playoff chance would fall to about 22%.

Solely, all groups are usually not created equal. Say the Lakers have been to host the Spurs in a win-or-go-home sport. With a wholesome James and Anthony Davis, the defending champions would possibly win eight or 9 instances out of 10.

The Wizards are the flip-side to that argument. They have been ravaged by COVID-19 early within the season. Russell Westbrook took months to get himself proper after a 2019-20 marketing campaign bookended by damage and to combine himself into Washington’s roster. The Wizards are 1-8 with out Beal within the lineup. Instantly they’re an above-.500 workforce with the NBA’s main scorer on the courtroom — on par with any potential play-in opponent.

Since Beal returned from a hip damage on April 7, when Westbrook was weeks into his resurgence, the Wizards are 15-4. A type of losses got here as Beal rested the second evening of a back-to-back. That run additionally coincides with the addition of a wholesome Daniel Gafford, the underrated 22-year-old rim-running heart Washington acquired on the commerce deadline. This can be a entire totally different workforce than it was even two months in the past.

No play-in workforce goes to really feel higher than a coin flip dealing with Beal and Westbrook in a must-win sport.

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is a workers author for Yahoo Sports activities. Have a tip? E-mail him at or observe him on Twitter!

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