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NBA Playoffs: A Look at the Play-In Teams

NBA Playoffs: A Look at the Play-In Teams

The NBA Playoffs are fast approaching. With just about 12 games away from the end of the season, most of the seeding is just about set in stone.

In the West, the top four seeds are basically set. In order, that’s the Utah Jazz, Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Clippers and Denver Nuggets. Competition for the fifth and sixth seeds will be tight between the Lakers, Mavericks and Trail Blazers.

In the East, the only set teams are Brooklyn, Philadelphia and Milwaukee. New York, Atlanta, Boston and Miami are seeds four through seven, however they all have similar records, so that seeding could change.

Besides the set teams, there are teams that will play for a chance to make the playoffs. They’ll play in the NBA’s second season of “play-in games.”

In this article, TGH is taking a look into those teams, along with best-case and worst-case scenarios for them.

Play-In Teams in the West

The Western Conference play-in teams are the Portland Trail Blazers, Memphis Grizzlies, San Antonio Spurs and Golden State Warriors. Those will most likely be the teams in the play-in, as New Orleans, who’s the team that just misses the spot, is five games behind Golden State.

Predicting that Dallas does well in their last 13 games, they’re a lock for the six seed, which avoids the play-in games. They’ll be competing with Portland for the six-seed; however, Portland’s last 12 games are against better teams in comparison to the Maverick’s games.

NBA Playoffs: A Look at the Play-In Teams
Image Courtesy of Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

With that being said, the play-in games in the Western Conference will feature Portland, Memphis, San Antonio and Golden State. As previously mentioned, they all have similar records, so there could be different games.

Golden State and Portland have the best chances of winning these games because they have the best playoff-ready rosters. Steph Curry is playing at an MVP level, and both Golden State and Portland have valuable playoff experience. That will be key for these teams to have success in the post season.

As for San Antonio and Memphis, both of these teams don’t have the necessary pieces to compete. Yes, the Spurs have DeMar DeRozan, and Memphis has Ja Morant, but the front offices still need to put better guys around them in the future. As for the playoff hopes this season, they have a chance, but it’ll be difficult.

Play-In Teams in the East

The Eastern Conference will have a lot stiffer competition for the play-in spots. Miami, Charlotte, Indiana and Washington currently hold seeds seven through ten respectively. Boston, who’s the sixth seed, is only a half-game ahead of Miami for that spot. Chicago and Toronto are outside of the top ten but are close to getting in the play-in games as well.

Since there are so many teams in contention, it’s hard to predict who will avoid the play-in games or miss the playoffs; however, these teams have the best chances.

Be on the lookout for Washington. They started out the season horribly, but they’ve got in the groove at the right time. Led by Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook, this team has a solid chance to make the play in games. Their only problem is that they have minimal room for error.

NBA Playoffs: A Look at the Play-In Teams
Image Courtesy of Brock Williams-Smith/NBAE via Getty Images

The team to have an uphill battle is Chicago. They are right outside of the ten seed. Led by Zach LaVine, the Bulls haven’t found their groove this year. They might be able to make the late push, but if they fail, next season is looking bright for them.

Lastly, the Charlotte Hornets might make some noise. They currently hold the eighth spot. What gives them hope is the return of LaMelo Ball. Ball, who was injured earlier in the season, is rumored to return to the line-up soon. If that happens, The Hornets have a chance to make some noise in the play-in games and the playoffs.

All stats were taken from ESPN.com and basketballreference.com.

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