With the addition of play-in games to the 2021 NBA playoffs, the seeding puzzle is wilder – and more important – than ever, as almost every game on the track has a significant post-season impact.
Play-in matchups after Thursday’s games
Play-in games will take place May 18-21
• How the play-in tournament works
• Current NBA rankings
Game 1: No. 8 Charlotte at No. 7 Boston – Winner is No. 7 in the playoffs
Game 2: No. 10 Washington at No. 9 Indiana – Winner continues in play-in; Loser is eliminated
Game 3: Washington / Indiana winner at Boston / Charlotte loser – winner is number 8 in the playoffs
Game 1: No. 8 Golden State at No. 7 Los Angeles Lakers – Winner is No. 7 seed in playoffs
Game 2: No. 10 San Antonio at No. 9 Memphis – Winner Continues Play-In; Loser is eliminated
Game 3: Memphis / San Antonio Winner at Lakers / Golden State Loser – Winner is number 8 in the playoffs
Teams that won on Thursday
Playoff seats: Philadelphia 76ers, Brooklyn Nets, Milwaukee Bucks, Miami Heat, Atlanta Hawks, and New York Knicks
Closing places (seeds 7-10): Boston Celtics, Charlotte Hornets, Indiana Pacers
Playoff spots: Utah Jazz, Phoenix Suns, LA Clippers, and Denver Nuggets
Playgrounds: Golden State Warriors, Memphis Grizzlies, San Antonio Spurs
Here’s a breakdown of Thursday’s main games and what the results mean for the sowing:
Devin Booker is fouled 2.4 seconds ahead and hits both free throws for the Suns to win.
The Portland Trail Blazers were four seconds away from officially securing a spot in the top six, but two free throws from Devin Booker gave the Phoenix Suns a points win and prevented Portland from making the playoffs for at least another day.
The Blazers end their season against the Nuggets on Sunday, but if the Los Angeles Lakers lose to the Indiana Pacers on Saturday, it would guarantee Portland no worse than sixth. But if the Blazers lose their final and the Lakers win their last two games, that would put Portland in the box and put the Lakers in sixth place.
The blazers were on a roll to get to that point, winning their last five and nine of their last ten.
The loss, however, makes the blazers’ advance for the 5-seed difficult. They’re falling one game behind the Dallas Mavericks, and while holding the tiebreaker with Dallas, they need a Mavs loss to the Raptors or Timberwolves in one of their last two games. – Royce Young
Trae Young shakes his defender, walks over and fetches the high proof bucket.
In the race for fourth place in the east, victories across the board confirmed the status quo among the Atlanta Hawks, Miami Heat and New York Knicks on Thursday evening.
The Hawks took a giant step towards securing that fourth seed with an emphatic victory over the unfortunate Orlando Magic. The win leaves Atlanta with a final game on Sunday against the worst Houston Rockets in the league. If Atlanta wins this game and the Knicks and Heat win, the Hawks win the Southeast Division and get the fourth seed.
The Miami Heat, meanwhile, blew out the Philadelphia 76ers, keeping the Heat in fifth place. Miami owns the tiebreaker over the Knicks. So if all three teams tie by the end of the regular season, Miami will get the fifth seed. The Heat has two more games to go – on Saturday in Milwaukee and on Sunday in Detroit.
New York also took a win, although it was far more difficult to get as the Knicks overtook the San Antonio Spurs in Madison Square Garden.
The Knicks play the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday and the Boston Celtics on Sunday.
If two of the three teams from Atlanta, New York and Miami are tied at the end of the season, the tiebreaker scenarios break out as follows:
Atlanta wins the tiebreaker with Miami
Miami wins the tiebreaker with New York
New York wins the tiebreaker with Atlanta
The losses of Charlotte and Indiana on Thursday night also officially lock the Celtics in the seventh seed in the east and they will host the 7-8 game in the NBA’s first play-in tournament next Tuesday. Charlotte and Indiana have 33 wins, the Washington Wizards 32. – Tim Bontemps
Coby White gets out in transition and throws a monster jam at Stanley Johnson.
With the Chicago Bulls beating the Toronto Raptors on Thursday night, Chicago still has very low hopes for the play-in tournament. It would still take a lot – the wizards lose their last two games and the bulls win their last two – but that’s better than no chance at all. – – Bontemps
Unlike the cops, the Sacramento Kings have no chance at all after losing to the Memphis Grizzlies on Thursday night. The Kings had to win and the Spurs lost, but Thursday’s loss will officially extend Sacramento’s league playoff drought to 15 years. The Spurs, meanwhile, retreated to the No. 10 slot to the west.
Memphis stayed in the running for a chance to finish eighth in the Western Conference with the win. Sunday’s game against the Golden State Warriors will essentially be a one-game playoff for eighth playoff spot in the West, which is the difference between winning one of two games for the playoffs or winning two in one game Line. – – Bontemps
The Clippers perform the pick and roll, with Rajon Rondo finding Kawhi Leonard with a slick pass for a layin and the foul.
Nic Batum enjoyed his return to Charlotte.
Batum was seen as expendable last season when the Charlotte Hornets left with their youth movement. He scored 11 points and hit two 3s to help the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Hornets.
With the help of Batum, the Clippers played better than they had recently and continued to hold onto the third seed ahead of Denver with two games remaining in Houston and Oklahoma City.
For the Hornets, this was a game they needed. You stay connected with the Indiana Pacers. Charlotte, who owns the tiebreaker for number 8 against Indiana, has lost three times in a row and can use Miles Bridges for the last two games of the season against the Knicks and Wizards. – Ohm Youngmisuk