basketball tournament

LeBron James, Luka Doncic, and Mark Cuban might have slammed it. However, it’s tough to argue the NBA play-in competition didn’t serve its intended function.

The addition of the tournament brought a new level of intrigue and drama down the last stretch of the regular season and encouraged groups to complete rather than drown in the hopes of landing a much better draft pick. While the play-in format is straightforward, it may not be evident to numerous NBA fans since it’s a brand-new principle. Don’t worry– we’re here to help.

Here’s a breakdown of what to anticipate from the tournament, consisting of a bracket and schedule for play-in video games.

NBA play-in format described

The play-in competition will be held after the conclusion of the 2020-21 regular season and before the start of the preliminary of the 2021 NBA playoffs. The groups that complete Nos. 1-6 in the standings of each conference will be guaranteed playoff spots. Groups Nos. 7-10 will get in the play-in tournament.

Each conference’s Nos. 7 and 8 groups will face off, with the winner earning the No. 7 seed in the playoffs. The loser will still have another chance to reach the playoffs.

Each conference’s Nos. 9 and 10 teams will face-off, with the winner advancing to play the loser of the No. 7-vs.-No. 8 game. The loser of the No. 9-vs.-No. 10 games will be removed from playoff contention.

The loser of the No. 7-vs.-No. 8 game and the winner of the No. 9-vs.-No. 10 matches will then bet each other. The winner of that game will be the No. 8 seed in the playoffs. The loser will be eliminated from playoff contention.
Beyond the play-in competition, the 2021 NBA playoffs will follow the standard format, with the entire best-of-seven series through the NBA Finals.

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NBA playoff bracket 2021

NBA play-in tournament schedule

May 18

Game (play-in)Time (ET)National TV
Hornets vs. Pacers6:30 p.m.TNT
Wizards vs. Celtics9 p.m.TNT

May 19

Game (play-in)Time (ET)National TV
Spurs vs. Grizzlies7:30 p.m.ESPN
Warriors vs. Lakers10 p.m.ESPN

May 20

Game (play-in)Time (ET)National TV
Pacers vs. Wizards8 p.m.TNT

May 21

Game (play-in)Time (ET)National TV
Game 3 Winner vs. Game 4 LoserTBDESPN

When do the NBA playoffs start?

  • Play-in tournament: May 18-21
  • NBA playoffs: May 22

The 2021 NBA play-in competition will begin on Tuesday, May 18. The preliminary of the 2021 NBA playoffs will start four days later, on Saturday, May 22.

July 22 is the current possible date for an NBA Finals game.

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