NBA Play-In Tournament schedule released: Complete field is clearing up

Boston Celtics Kemba Walker (David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports)
Boston Celtics Kemba Walker (David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports) /

Taking a closer look at the NBA Play-In Tournament schedule as the field begins to clear up. 

In just a few days, the NBA’s inaugural play-in tournament will begin. The official start date is May 18 and it’s expected to end one day before the official start of the NBA playoffs, May 22. And just days before the start of meaningful basketball, the slate in both conferences is beginning to become clear.

Out in the Eastern Conference, the four teams participating in the play-in tournament are officially set. The Boston Celtics are locked in the 7th seed, with the Charlotte Hornets, Indiana Pacers, and Washington Wizards still battling for the 8-10 slots. Each of those teams, however, is guaranteed a spot in the tournament.

Similarly, in the Western Conference, the Golden State Warriors and Memphis Grizzlies are battling for the 8th and 9th seed, but both are locked into a spot in the tournament. The San Antonio Spurs are locked into the 10th spot.

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As far as the 7th spot is concerned, the Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Lakers are fighting to avoid the play-in tournament. With a win Friday night, the Dallas Mavericks clinched a top 6 seed in the West. The Blazers sit one-half game ahead of the Lakers heading into this weekend.

Seven out of the eight teams in the play-in tournament are set and the final team likely won’t be clinched until the final game of the regular season.

That said, we already have a schedule, with however the final standings wind down.

The NBA Play-In Tournament schedule

Here is the schedule, per the NBA:

  • Game 1 – East 8th seed vs. East 7th Seed (Boston) – May 18 
  • Game 2 – East 10th seed (Washington) vs. East 9th seed – May 18 
  • Game 3 – West 8th seed vs. West 7th seed – May 19
  • Game 4 – West 10 seed (San Antonio) vs. West 9th seed – May 19 
  • Game 5 – Winner of Game 2 vs. Loser of Game 1 – May 20
  • Game 6 – Winner of Game 4 vs. Loser of Game 3 – May 21 

Over the next couple of days, the play-in tournament will officially be set and the schedule will begin to make more sense. But this is going to be an interesting experiment for the NBA and for the future of the league.

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With big-name teams expected to be included (Celtics, possibly Lakers, and Warriors), there’s no question that the play-in tournament will have plenty of intrigue heading into the start of the postseason.