NBA Playoffs

NBA+playoffs

via NBA.com

NBA playoffs

The NBA Playoffs happen every year, during the months of April, May, and June. With the regular season-ending around the start of April every year, there is usually about a week of break before the NBA Playoffs start. Sixteen teams, eight from each conference, compete in best-of-seven series each round to determine the winner. There are three rounds of the Eastern Conference and Western Conference Playoffs until two teams are left, one from each conference. The two remaining teams face off against each other in the NBA Finals to determine which team is the best in the league.

 

The top eight teams from each conference made the tournament in the past years, but the newly implemented play-in tournament provides a new twist to the playoffs. The first play-in “tournament” took place during the 2020 season, which was suspended by COVID-19. The play-in tournament was originally introduced when the teams that were already eliminated from playoff contention didn’t get to finish the season. The commissioner wanted more basketball, so he introduced the tournament. It originally began with the eighth-seeded team playing the ninth-seeded team to earn the eighth seed. In the 2020 season, the Portland Trail Blazers and Memphis Grizzlies played in the “tournament.” Since the Trail Blazers were the higher-seeded team, they only had to beat the Grizzlies one time. The Grizzlies were required to win two games as the lower-seeded team, but the Trail Blazers won the first game, so they earned the eighth seed in the playoffs. In the eastern conference, the eighth-seeded Orlando Magic were 7.5 games ahead of the ninth place Washington Wizards, so there wasn’t a game.

 

For the past two years, the bracket has been much more complex. In both conferences, there are two “rounds” of the play-in. In the first “round,” the 7th seed faces off against the 8th seed to determine who earns the 7th seed in the playoffs, and the 9th seed plays the 10th seed. The winner of the 9th vs. 10th game plays the loser of the 7th vs. 8th game. The loser of the 9th vs. 10th game is eliminated, along with the loser of the game between the loser of the 7th vs. 8th game and the winner of the 9th vs. 10th game. For example, the Brooklyn Nets defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 7th vs. 8th game and got the 7th seed. The Cavaliers played against the Atlanta Hawks, who beat the Charlotte Hornets in the 9th vs. 10th game. In the 8th vs. 9th game, the Hawks beat the Cavs and got the 8th seed. The original 7th seed Minnesota Timberwolves and the 9th seed New Orleans Pelicans made it out of the play-in tournament in the west.

 

In the eastern conference, the Heat, Celtics, Bucks, 76ers, Raptors, Bulls, Nets, and Hawks are competing in seed order. The Suns, Grizzlies, Warriors, Mavericks, Jazz, Nuggets, Timberwolves, and Pelicans are competing in the western conference. A few key players have gotten injured during the playoffs. In the Bucks’ Game 2 loss to the Bulls, star player Khris Middleton who averaged 20.1 points in the regular season suffered an MCL sprain and is expected to miss about two weeks, making his return for the series improbable. Superstar Devin Booker, who averaged 26.8 points in the regular season, strained his hamstring in the Suns’ Game 2. The result was a loss to the Pelicans, and he is expected to miss 2-3 weeks, drastically improving the Pelicans’ chances of winning the first-round series.

The Warriors are currently favored to win the championship after they took an impressive 3-0 lead against the Nuggets after their Game 3 win. The Nuggets are tied for last with the Hawks and Raptors. The other nine teams in the top ten are the Celtics, Suns, Heat, Grizzlies, Bucks, 76ers, Nets, Mavericks, and Jazz.