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.
Play-in matchups after Thursday’s games
Play-in games to be held Tuesday through Friday of next week
Game 1: No. 8 Charlotte at No. 7 Boston — winner is No. 7 seed in playoffs; loser moves on in play-in
Game 2: No. 10 Washington at No. 9 Indiana — winner moves on in play-in; loser is eliminated
Game 3: Washington/Indiana winner at Boston/Charlotte loser — winner is No. 8 seed in playoffs
Game 1: No. 8 Golden State 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 at No. 9 Memphis — winner moves on in play-in; loser is eliminated
Game 3: Memphis/San Antonio winner at Lakers/Golden State loser — winner is No. 8 seed in playoffs
Teams that clinched Friday
Here’s a breakdown of the key games from Friday and what the results mean for the seedings:
It’s been a striking turnaround for the Wizards, who on April 5 sat 17-32 and outside the East’s playoff picture. Since then, they’ve gone 16-6, which featured a seven-game winning streak, boosting them into the top 10.
With a game to go, there’s still more to play for as the Wizards are a game behind the Hornets and Pacers for the 8th and 9th spots. The difference between 8 and 9 is huge, obviously, going from a possible one-and-done game to needing to lose two games to be eliminated.
And guess what? The Wizards close the regular season against the Hornets on Sunday, while the Pacers finish with the Lakers (in what is a near must-win for LA). The Wizards hold the tiebreaker on the Pacers, which would bump them ahead if Washington closes with a win and the Lakers beat Indiana. The Hornets play the Knicks on Saturday, and with a win, lock up a higher spot than the Wizards by virtue of a 2-1 season series tiebreaker. But should the Hornets lose, it sets up a massive seeding game between Washington and Charlotte. — Royce Young