The NBA regular season is finally over and now it is playoff time. Before we get there, we have the play-in games. The NBA implemented the play-ins a couple years ago and I’ll be honest, this is something I’m a huge fan of. The play-ins are played between team ranked 7-10 in both conferences. The winner of the 7 vs. 8 matchup will be the 7th seed in that conference. While the loser plays the winner of the 9 vs. 10 games for the 8th seed. In the East, the 7h seed Brooklyn Nets host the Cleveland Cavaliers. While the 9th seed Atlanta Hawks host the Charlotte Hornets. In the West, we have the 7th seed Minnesota Timberwolves hosting the Los Angeles Clippers. The 9th seed New Orleans Pelicans host the San Antonio Spurs. Who will advance to the playoffs from the play-in games?
Coming into the season, the Nets were one of the favorites to make the NBA Finals. The Kyrie vaccination issues and James Harden was traded. Kevin Durant miss some significant time due to injury. Any team with KD and Kyrie, they have an opportunity to make a run. With Cleveland, they definitely overachieved this season but they regressed towards the end. Evan Mobley is a legit rookie and Jarrett Allen is an All-Defensive player. Darius Garland became an all-star so this team has the potential to matchup against anyone. When it’s a one-game elimination anything can happen. It is hard for me to pick against KD, Kyrie and Brooklyn. I’m picking the Nets to win and secure that 7th seed and face Boston. Brooklyn Win
We have a battle between two of the more exciting point guards in the league. The Charlotte Hornets and LiMelo Ball head to Atlanta to face Trae Young and the Hawks. Charlotte enters the game on a 3-game winning streak. They finished with an identical record as the Hawks, but Atlanta owns the tie-breaker. Without John Collins, the Hawks could have problems with the athleticism possessed by Charlotte. These two teams can score at will, but the difference will be made on the defensive end. For Atlanta, Bogi and Gallo have been playing some tremendous ball. Trae Young has been his usual All-Star self. Young became the first player in the NBA to lead in total points and assists in 50 years. I’m picking Charlotte to advance to play Cleveland for that 8th spot. Charlotte Win
The Minnesota Timberwolves finally put things together and had a successful season. Karl-Anthony Towns became that dominant force at times many thought he could be. Anthony Edwards showed why he was the top pick from a season ago. Patrick Beverly added toughness to the team and now they’re playing to get into the playoffs. The Los Angeles Clippers actually overachieved seeing they were without Kawi Leonard all season. Paul George came back late in the season and help them surge into the 8th spot. Reggie Jackson is arguably their most valuable player as he’s carried the team. Who will emerge as the 7th seed and play the Memphis Grizzlies in round one? I’m going with the Timberwolves because I’m sold on this team. Minnesota Win
The 9 vs. 10 matchup features a pair of young, upcoming team out west. The New Orleans Pelicans will host the San Antonio Spurs for the right to play for that 8th seed. The Pelicans started making a run into the play-in tournament after acquiring C.J. McCollum. New Orleans has a scary team because McCollum and Brandon Ingram can score at will. Jonas Valanciunas can put up some numbers also. Dejounte Murray has emerged as one of the perennial point guards in the league. Murray was rewarded for his great season with his first All-Star selection. San Antonio could shock the Pelicans because they have an all-time great in Coach Popovich. New Orleans is a much better team and I’m thinking the Pelicans will win this one. New Orleans Win