NBA play-in tracker: Where the races stand with one weekend lefton April 9, 2022 at 4:10 am

As the NBA’s 2021-22 regular season draws to a conclusion on April 10, teams near the middle of the standings are battling for postseason seeding with a special focus on the league’s play-in tournament.

Held before the first round of the 2022 NBA playoffs, the play-in tournament adds an exciting wrinkle to the end of the regular season. Teams were already less incentivized to tank games down the stretch because of the flattened lottery odds instituted in 2019. Now that the top 10 teams in the standings will finish the regular season with at least a chance to make the playoffs, more franchises will stay in the mix for longer.

The play-in tournament will be held April 12-15.

Here’s everything you need to know about the setup this season.

MORE: Current NBA standings

How the play-in race is shaping up

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Friday’s results:

Nets 118, Cavaliers 107

Hornets 133, Bulls 117

Heat 113, Hawks 109

Updated play-in standings

7. Brooklyn Nets, 43-38
8. Cleveland Cavaliers: 43-38
9. Atlanta Hawks, 42-39, 1 GB
10. Charlotte Hornets: 42-39, 1 GB

Here’s how the play-in games would look if the season ended today:

No. 8 Cavaliers at No. 7 Nets (April 12 on TNT)

No. 10 Hornets at No. 9 Hawks (April 13, 7 p.m. ET on ESPN)

The four play-in teams in the East are set, but none of the seeds are. All four teams are in action for the final time in the regular season Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET.

Pacers at Nets, 3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN

Wizards at Hornets, 3:30 p.m. ET

Bucks at Cavaliers, 3:30 p.m. ET

Hawks at Rockets, 3:30 p.m. ET

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Updated play-in standings:

7. Minnesota Timberwolves: 46-35 (clinched 7-seed)
8. LA Clippers: 40-40 (clinched 8-seed)
9. New Orleans Pelicans: 36-44, 2 games ahead of 10th
10. San Antonio Spurs: 34-46, 2 GB

Here’s how the play-in games would look if the season ended today:

No. 8 Clippers at No. 7 Timberwolves (April 12 on TNT)

No. 10 Spurs at No. 9 Pelicans (April 13, 9:30 p.m. ET on ESPN)

The 7-8 game is locked in. The next Pelicans win or Spurs loss will lock in the 9-10 game as well.

Saturday:

Kings at Clippers, 9:30 p.m. ET

Sunday:

Bulls at Timberwolves, 8:30 p.m. ET

Spurs at Mavericks, 9:30 p.m. ET

Thunder at Clippers, 9:30 p.m. ET

Warriors at Pelicans, 9:30 p.m. ET

MORE: Full NBA schedule

How does the NBA play-in tournament work?

There will be six total games involving eight teams as part of the play-in tournament, split up between the two conferences.

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The teams that finish Nos. 1-6 in each conference will be guaranteed playoff spots, while team Nos. 7-10 in the standings will enter the play-in. Any team that finishes worse than No. 10 will be in the lottery.

Here’s how the games will work:

Game 1: The No. 7 team in the standings by winning percentage will host the No. 8 team, with the winner earning the No. 7 seed in the playoffs. The losing team gets another chance in Game 3.

Game 2: The No. 9 team will host the No. 10 team, with the winner moving on to Game 3. The loser is eliminated and enters the NBA draft lottery.

Game 3: The loser of the No. 7 vs. No. 8 matchup will host the winner of the No. 9 vs. No. 10 matchup, with the victor grabbing the No. 8 seed in the postseason. The loser of Game 3 also enters the lottery.

This means that the teams with the seventh-highest and eighth-highest winning percentages will have two opportunities to win one game to earn a playoff spot, while the teams with the ninth-highest and 10th-highest winning percentages need to win two straight games to advance.

What’s next after the play-in?

Once the play-in winners, seeded No. 7 and No. 8 from each conference advance, the 2022 NBA playoffs will begin on April 16. Game 1 of the NBA Finals is June 2.

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