There was one last entertaining twist in the creation of the NBA play-in bracket for the Eastern Conference on Sunday. After an enthralling season with a lot of uncertainty and surprises, the Washington Wizards completed an incredible run that started in April. During that stretch, they won 17 of 23 matchups, and finished eighth seed in the East.
Analyzing how the NBA play-in bracket will unfold
Although it has come under criticism, the NBA play-in tournament has created additional competitiveness among teams who would normally have given up on their postseason hopes earlier in the campaign. The picture has been particularly interesting in the East where the final standings have been decided with the outcome of the last regular season games.
Let’s have a look at the schedule for the week ahead in the Eastern Conference’s play-in bracket.
(10) Charlotte Hornets vs (9) Indiana Pacers: Tuesday, May 18th, 2021
The Charlotte Hornets will be kicking themselves after blowing a 16-point lead against the Wizards on Sunday and falling from 8th to 10th in the NBA play-in bracket. After a positive first half of the season, injuries have hampered the Hornets, with star pairing Gordon Hayward and LaMelo Ball missing significant time on the court. Ball recently returned, though Hayward is expected to miss out on the play-in tournament.
Terry Rozier has been prolific, so too has PJ Washington over the last ten games, though they will need to be at the top of their game to outscore the Indiana Pacers. In that same period, only two teams have scored more points than the Pacers’ 123.8 per matchup. Meanwhile, the Hornets scored the sixth-fewest.
Throughout the campaign, the Hornets beat the Pacers on two of three occasions. They will be hoping they can take advantage of Indiana’s poor home record and make the postseason after what had been a successful year up until their injuries.
The game will be shown live on NBA TNT and will be available on the NBA League Pass, with the tip-off at 6:30PM ET and 4AM IST.
(8) Washington Wizards vs (7) Boston Celtics: Tuesday, May 18th, 2021
It has been an almighty turnaround from the Washington Wizards squad to pull themselves up to the eighth seed in the East. Beyond Russell Westbrook, Bradley Beal and Robin Lopez, their team is very inexperienced, especially when it comes to playoff basketball and fighting to be in the postseason.
However, with Beal’s prolific scoring and Westbrook’s all-round ability, the Wizards have been worthy of their NBA play-in berth. Their recent run has helped them develop as a squad and the two stars have looked unstoppable together. Against an injury-ridden Boston Celtics, they will certainly fancy their chances on Tuesday.
The Celtics had all of their regular starters sidelined on Sunday as they fell 96-92 against the New York Knicks. The game meant nothing to them with their fate already sealed. But they have lost six of their last ten matchups and will come into this game as inconsistent as they have been all season.
With a second-chance for the loser to still make the playoffs on home court, the game is theoretically a free-hit for the Washington Wizards. Should they make it through, a mouth-watering matchup awaits against either the Milwaukee Bucks or, more likely, the Brooklyn Nets in the first round of the playoffs.
The first game of the NBA play-in bracket between the Celtics and Wizards will tip off at 9PM ET and will be shown on TNT in America. Fans can also stream the game on the NBA League Pass.
No.9 seed vs No.8 seed: Thursday, May 20th, 2021
Just two days after these games, the NBA play-in bracket for the Eastern Conference will be complete. The winner of the 10th vs 9th matchup will play the loser of the 8th vs 7th game in Boston. This will undoubtedly favor either Boston or Washington as they will have a second-chance to make the postseason on home court.
The game will also be shown on TNT and will be available on the NBA League Pass at 8PM ET and 5:30AM IST.