Playoffs or play-in? LeBron returns but Lakers won’t know fate until final day

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The Guardian 15 May, 2021 - 04:05pm 9 views

When is the NBA play in tournament?

When is the NBA Play-In Tournament? The Play-In Tournament will begin Tuesday, May 18, two days after the end of the regular season on May 16. The last game of the tournament will be May 21, with the first round of the NBA playoffs tipping off May 22. NBC ChicagoNBA Play-In Tournament 2021: Rules, Dates and TV Schedule

Who has tiebreaker between Portland and Lakers?

The Mavs do have a tiebreaker advantage over the Lakers. Portland: Has tiebreakers over the Lakers and Mavericks. Will avoid the play-in tournament with a win over the Nuggets, and will only fall into the play-in tournament with a loss and two wins from the Lakers. LeBron WireHow the Lakers can avoid the NBA's new play-in tournament

Can the Lakers get the 6 seed?

The Lakers can clinch the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference if they win at New Orleans on Sunday and Portland loses to Denver that day. If the Lakers finish No. 7, they will be in the play-in tournament against the No. 8 seed. USA TODAYLeBron James returns from injury, Lakers top Pacers to stay alive for top-six seed in Western Conference

Where is the NBA play in tournament?

Where will the NBA Play-In Tournament be held? With the COVID-19 vaccines continuing rolling out, the NBA has no plans to bring back the bubble. The Play-In Tournament will be held at home arenas, with the highest-winning percentage teams hosting each game. NBC4 WashingtonNBA Play-In Tournament 2021: Schedule, Rules and Format

As the regular season comes to a close, each team has something to play for: seeding or draft picks. With the addition of play-in games to the 2021 NBA playoffs, the scramble for seeding is wilder -- and more important -- than ever, with almost every game down the stretch having significant postseason implications.

How the play-in tournament will work

Current NBA standings

Game 1: No. 8 Charlotte Hornets at No. 7 Boston Celtics -- winner is No. 7 seed in playoffs; loser moves on in play-in

Game 2: No. 10 Washington Wizards at No. 9 Indiana Pacers -- winner moves on in play-in; loser is eliminated

Game 3: Wizards/Pacers winner at Celtics/Hornets loser -- winner is No. 8 seed in playoffs

Game 1: No. 8 Golden State Warriors at No. 7 Los Angeles Lakers -- winner is No. 7 seed in playoffs; loser moves on in play-in

Game 2: No. 10 San Antonio Spurs at No. 9 Memphis Grizzlies -- winner moves on in play-in; loser is eliminated

Game 3: Grizzlies/Spurs winner at Lakers/Warriors loser -- winner is No. 8 seed in playoffs

Here's a breakdown of the matchups and what the results will mean:

While the Indiana Pacers can no longer finish in eighth place in the Eastern Conference after losing to the Los Angeles Lakers Saturday afternoon, a win against the tanking Toronto Raptors on Sunday will ensure that Indiana hosts the 9-10 game in the NBA's inaugural play-in tournament on Tuesday night. However, a loss will mean that Indiana will either be traveling to Charlotte or Washington as the 10th seed in the East. -- Tim Bontemps

After Washington beat Cleveland on Friday night, and the Charlotte Hornets lost in overtime to the New York Knicks on Saturday, the game between the Wizards and Hornets on Sunday afternoon has become the unofficial start of the Eastern Conference play-in tournament. The winner will become the eighth seed and the loser will likely become locked into the 10th seed, assuming a Pacers victory over the Raptors. -- Bontemps

In a rematch of Saturday's contest, the Suns will look once again to topple the Spurs as they continue their quest for the No. 1 seed. The Suns will also need another victory and have to hope Utah slips up against the Sacramento Kings in a later game in order to overtake the Jazz for the top spot. Phoenix cannot fall any lower than second.

Meanwhile, the Spurs are set in the 10th spot so they could once again opt to rest players, as they did with DeMar DeRozan, Rudy Gay, Dejounte Murray and Jakob Poeltl on Saturday. -- Andrew Lopez

The winner becomes the eighth seed in the Western Conference. That is a major difference because the Golden State Warriors or Memphis Grizzlies would end up with two chances at a playoff berth.

Win on Sunday and they can try to claim the seventh seed in the play-in tournament. The loser of The loser of Sunday's game must win two straight games in order to qualify for the postseason. -- Nick Friedell

The simplest path to the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference is for Brooklyn to win both of their games this weekend. Brooklyn took care of the first half of that equation with their win over the Bulls on Saturday afternoon.

Now, the Nets will watch and see what happens between the Miami Heat and Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday night. The outcome of that game not only affects the Nets' playoff seeding -- if the Bucks lose on Saturday, it secures the No. 2 seed for Brooklyn -- but it has an effect on who Steve Nash may elect to hold out of Sunday's contest with the Cavaliers. Nash said he prefers not to play -- James Harden, Blake Griffin and Kevin Durant -- all who have a history of injury -- on Sunday. If the Nets' can lock up their seeding on Sunday night, the decision to rest those players becomes easier. -- Malika Andrews

The Dallas Mavericks know they'll face either the Denver Nuggets or LA Clippers in the first round, but they won't have any clarity before tip-off on how the result of their regular-season finale will determine their playoff matchup. A win over the Timberwolves will clinch the fifth seed for the Mavs, but the Clippers will be the fourth seed if they manage to lose to the Thunder or if the Nuggets beat the Trail Blazers. Dallas could also lose and see the Clippers in the 3-6 matchup. A Mavs win, Clippers win and Nuggets loss would result in a Denver versus Dallas 4-5 matchup.

The Minnesota Timberwolves, whose pick goes to the Golden State Warriors if it doesn't land in the top three, are currently tied with the Cleveland Cavaliers for the fifth-worst record, one loss less than the Orlando Magic and Oklahoma City Thunder. -- MacMahon

The Los Angeles Lakers can play their way out of the play-in tournament with a little help from the Denver Nuggets on Sunday. If L.A. beats the New Orleans Pelicans and the Nuggets beat the Blazers, L.A. will end up as the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference playoffs. If they lose, they'll host a play-in game Wednesday against either Golden State or Memphis.

New Orleans will be without their young superstar Zion Williamson, who has missed the last five games with a fractured left index finger. The Pelicans have already been eliminated from postseason contention. -- Dave McMenamin

Sunday night's game between the Clippers and Thunder is shaping up to be a 'Battle of Who Could Care Less' (about winning), but for very, very different reasons.

After the Clippers sat virtually every member of their rotation and lost to the league's worst team, the Houston Rockets, Friday night, the Clippers can lock up the fourth seed in the West -- and likely avoid their cross-the-hall rivals, the Los Angeles Lakers, until the Western Conference finals -- with a loss to Oklahoma City.

The Thunder, on the other hand, are going to be desperate to lose once more in order to ensure it finishes no worse than tied for third with Orlando in the lottery standings. Oklahoma City has gotten quite good at losing over the past several weeks, going 1-23 since April 1. -- Bontemps

For the Portland Trail Blazers, it's not complicated: Beat the Denver Nuggets, get a top six seed. A loss opens the door for the Los Angeles Lakers to grab it (should they beat the Pelicans), which would be a crushing finish to what has been a solid two week run for Portland.

A win, though, also keeps the door open to move up to fifth. The Blazers need the Dallas Mavericks to lose to Minnesota, but with the tiebreaker in hand, Portland could jump into that matchup. Who they would play is complex, and it involves the Nuggets.

If the Blazers beat Denver, the Nuggets would fall to fourth, but that's only if the Thunder beat the LA Clippers. If the Clippers win, they're the three and the Nuggets are fourth no matter what. And with the Lakers potentially looming as the 6-seed, moving to the three may not seem that appealing. -- Royce Young

After Philadelphia beat Orlando Friday night, the Sixers enter Sunday's game with nothing to play for, having already secured the top seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

The Magic, on the other hand, have everything to lose for, as dropping Sunday's game will ensure Orlando finishes no worse than in a tie for the third spot in the NBA's Draft Lottery next month with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Orlando is one of several teams at the bottom of the standings that may be trying their best to lose one final time before heading home for the summer. -- Bontemps

It's simple for the Utah Jazz: A win over the Sacramento Kings claims the West's top seed, regardless of the Suns' result against the Spurs. It would also give the Jazz the outright best record in the league for the first time in franchise history. (Utah tied for the NBA's best record in 1997-98 and 1998-99.) The Jazz will finish at least tied for the NBA's best record no matter what, but the Suns own the tiebreaker over them, so a loss to the Kings could cause Utah to slip to the second seed.

The Kings, currently tied with the Pelicans for the ninth-worst record, will land between eighth and 10th in the lottery odds. -- Tim MacMahon

Read full article at The Guardian

NBA Playoff Picture 2021: Standings, Predictions for Lakers, Warriors and More

Bleacher Report 15 May, 2021 - 08:00pm

Can the Los Angeles Lakers move up to the No. 6 seed and avoid going to the play-in tournament? Or will the Portland Trail Blazers hold them off, giving the defending NBA champions a longer path back to the postseason?

That's the biggest question remaining following Friday's action, as seven of the eight teams heading to the play-in tournament are now set. The Washington Wizards clinched their spot in the East with a 120-105 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, eliminating the Chicago Bulls from contention. Washington is currently the No. 10 seed, but it could move up as high as No. 8.

The Dallas Mavericks clinched a spot in the first round of the playoffs with a 114-110 win over the Toronto Raptors. That means only the Trail Blazers could potentially fall out of the top six in the West (and only the Lakers could move in).

At the top of the standings, the Philadelphia 76ers clinched the No. 1 seed in the East by defeating the Orlando Magic 122-97.

Here's a look at the latest NBA playoff picture, followed by several predictions for how the rest of the weekend will unfold.

If the Lakers are going to avoid the play-in tournament, it's going to take a perfect weekend and a bit of luck. In order to do so, they'll have to win road matchups at Indiana on Saturday and New Orleans on Sunday, while also hoping Portland loses to Denver on Sunday.

That's unlikely to happen. The Lakers may be playing better of late, having won three in a row despite dealing with numerous injuries, and they could potentially beat both the Pacers and Pelicans. But the Trail Blazers should win on their home court with the stakes raised on Sunday.

But Los Angeles' time in the play-in tournament may be brief. The Lakers are guaranteed to be the No. 7 seed if they end up there, which means they'll host the No. 8 seed (currently the Warriors). The winner will advance to face the No. 2 seed in the first round, while the loser will play the winner of the No. 9 vs. No. 10 game.

LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Dennis Schroder are all nearing returns, coach Frank Vogel told reporters (including Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times) on Friday. And that should provide the necessary boost that Los Angeles needs to finish the regular season strong and carry that momentum into the play-in tourney.

Expect the Lakers to win the first game of the play-in tournament, then look to pull off an upset in the first round of the playoffs.

With the Warriors and Grizzlies each winning Friday and improving to 38-33, either team could still end up as the No. 8 seed. That will be decided Sunday, when Golden State hosts Memphis. The winner will be the No. 8 seed, while the loser will fall to No. 9 and host No. 10-seeded San Antonio in the play-in tournament.

Expect the Warriors to secure the No. 8 seed with a victory, and then they'll have to head to Los Angeles to face the Lakers. And while Golden State won't win that game (despite keeping it close), it will take down either Memphis or San Antonio, whichever team ends up advancing from the matchup between the Nos. 9 and 10 seeds.

The Warriors are dangerous in this type of format, as point guard Stephen Curry is capable of taking over a game on any given night. The chances of them losing two straight games with the possibility of advancing to the first round on the line are low.

Could Golden State pull off a first-round upset? It'll be unlikely, as it will be going up against the No. 1 seed in the West, which will likely be Utah. But never count out Curry and the Warriors once the postseason arrives.

Currently, the Hornets and Pacers have identical 33-37 records, which has them as the Nos. 8 and 9 seeds in the Eastern Conference, respectively. However, the Wizards are only a half-game back after their win over the Cavs on Friday, so there could still be a shakeup for the play-in tournament field behind the No. 7-seeded Celtics.

Charlotte has a difficult two-day stretch to end the regular season, playing at New York on Saturday and at Washington on Sunday. If the Hornets lose both games, they could fall to the No. 10 seed. And the prediction here is that's how things will unfold.

With Charlotte losing both games, Washington will pass it in the standings. It's also possible the Wizards could move up to the No. 8 seed in this scenario, unless the Pacers win each of their final two games (home against the Lakers on Saturday and on the road against the Raptors on Sunday). And Indiana may have trouble doing so with a tough matchup against the Lakers.

The Wizards, who could be difficult to beat in the play-in tournament if Bradley Beal returns from a hamstring injury, will head to Boston to face the Celtics. Meanwhile, the Pacers and Hornets will face off in Indiana after Charlotte ends the regular season on a five-game slide to fall to the No. 10 seed.

Nikola Jokic's Strong Message On Potentially Ducking LeBron James, Lakers

ClutchPoints 15 May, 2021 - 12:23pm

Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic has made it clear – he’s not planning on ducking any opponent, not even if that’s LeBron James and the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers.

The Play-In games have the entire NBA universe scrambling to figure out seeding possibilities. With just a couple of games left in the season, you’d think matters would nearly be settled. But entering the final weekend, it’s far from it towards the bottom of the Western Conference playoff bracket.

But one thing’s for certain, Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets could very well control their own destiny. Their final game of the season is against the sixth seed Portland Trail Blazers, the Nuggets’ current head-to-head matchup if the season ended today. If the Lakers manage to win both their games to end the season, how Jokic and the Nuggets perform against the Blazers could determine who they end up facing.

Losing to Portland all but assures that they would dodge the Lakers in the first round. However, Nikola Jokic made it clear that the team isn’t even remotely thinking about that, per report from The Denver Post’s Mike Singer.

Nikola Jokic has said #Nuggets aren't ducking anyone. He's played in every game so far, including tonight. He's going to want to play, therefore win, on Sunday. There's something to be said for not playing scared going into a series. Imagine LAL facing whoever tried to duck them.

— Mike Singer (@msinger) May 15, 2021

Nikola Jokic hasn’t missed a single game this year, driving his team throughout every contest as the season’s leading MVP candidate. You better believe Jokic’s firm stand isn’t just lip service. He’s not going to back down from a first-round date with LeBron James and the Lakers.

As things stand, there are a host of different little wrinkles that could influence the standings still. The result of the Los Angeles Clippers in their last game and whether or not the Lakers beat the Indiana Pacers on the road are still up in the air.

But one thing’s for certain, Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets aren’t ducking anybody.

Copyright © ClutchPoints. Partner of iOne Digital / Cassius Network.

May 15th NBA Injury News and Projected Starting Lineups – LeBron James, Anthony Davis Questionable, Walker Out

Sports Betting Dime 15 May, 2021 - 10:28am

by Quinn Allen in NBA Basketball

May 15, 2021 · 8:28 AM PDT

LeBron James and Anthony Davis are both questionable for the Lakers against Indiana as LA is likely bracing for the Play-In Tournament. Dennis Schroder is technically available but it’s doubtful that Frank Vogel will put him on the floor with only two games remaining.

The Celtics will be severely depleted against the Timberwolves with Kemba Walker, Marcus Smart, and Tristan Thompson all out.

The Bulls, who are officially out of the Play-In race, will be without Daniel Theis (hip) and Troy Brown (ankle). Backup guard Tomas Satoransky (ankle) is listed as questionable. Brooklyn will finally see their Big 3 back together when Kyrie Irving returns to the lineup after sitting out the Nets’ last game due to a facial contusion. Sharpshooter Joe Harris (hip) is questionable.

Quinn Allen is a sports journalist, with a background and education in broadcast journalism (BCIT '17). He writes about European Football, Basketball, and Baseball for numerous sites across the globe.

Quinn Allen is a sports journalist, with a background and education in broadcast journalism (BCIT '17). He writes about European Football, Basketball, and Baseball for numerous sites across the globe.

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