What a difference a year makes. Last year around this time, everyone was raving about the new NBA playoff format where there would be some play-in games in order to make it to the round of eight. This would allow for more teams to make the NBA playoffs. At that time, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and LeBron James were both fans of the new format. Fast forward to the present time, and both of these gentlemen are now complaining about it. Why you ask? Because both the Mavericks and Lakers are in a position to have to play in the play-in round. Let’s have a look at what lies ahead for the 2021 NBA Playoffs so you can plan your bets against their NBA Playoffs odds.
2021 NBA Play-In Tournament Rundown
In the new format, the seventh-place team will host the eighth-place team in a one-game matchup. The winner of that game will earn the No. 7 seed in this year’s playoffs. The ninth-place team will host the 10th-place team in a one game matchup where the loser is eliminated. The loser of the seventh-place vs. eighth place game will host the winner of the 9 vs. 10 game, and the winner of that game will then become the eighth seed in the playoffs.
If the season were to end today, the Boston Celtics would host the Charlotte Hornets in the 7 vs. 8 game in the Eastern Conference. The Indiana Pacers would host the Washington Wizards in the 9 vs. 10 game. The Toronto Raptors are currently three games behind the Wizards for the #10 seed. The Chicago Bulls are four games behind Washington. With only six or seven games remaining in the regular season, it will be very tough for the Raptors and Bulls to catch Washington. The Pacers are only a half-game ahead of the Wizards, while the Hornets only lead the Wizards by 1 ½ games, so there’s still some mystery as to what position each team will finish in.
Out West, there could be a lot of change between now and the end of the regular season. The Los Angeles Lakers are currently the #5 seed, but the Dallas Mavericks and Portland Trail Blazers are each within a game of the Lakers for the fifth spot. The Golden State Warriors are currently sitting in the eighth position, just a half-game ahead of the Memphis Grizzlies, and 1 ½ games ahead of the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs are currently sitting in the 10th spot. The Spurs have given themselves some cushioning, as they have pulled 2 ½ games ahead of the New Orleans Pelicans.
The race between the Lakers, Mavericks, and Trail Blazers will be fascinating to watch. The Lakers are one of the favorites to win the NBA championship, and if they have a rough stretch of games, they could possibly end up in the play-in round. With Dennis Schroder missing the next few games, and the status of LeBron James uncertain, this will be a hard stretch for the Lakers. We’ll see if the Lakers can come through and stay out of the play-in game, or will the Mavericks or Blazers have to play the red-hot Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors. The next two weeks of games will be wild in the West!