NBA Play-In Tournament: Predicting which 4 teams will qualify for the playoffs

Charlotte Hornets LaMelo Ball (Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports)
Charlotte Hornets LaMelo Ball (Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports) /

Predciting how the NBA’s Play-In Tournament will playout ahead of the start of the playoffs. 

The NBA’s inaugural 2020-21 Play-In Tournament is set and there will be eight teams officially battling for four playoff spots. The Play-In Tournament is set to begin May 18 and is expected to conclude May 21, one day before the official start of the NBA Playoffs.

In the Eastern Conference, the Boston Celtics, Washington Wizards, Indiana Pacers, and Charlotte Hornets will be battling for two playoff spots. In the Western Conference, the Los Angeles Lakers, Golden State Warriors, Memphis Grizzlies, and San Antonio Spurs will battle it out for the final two spots in the West playoffs.

It should be interesting to see how the tournament plays out considering there are some big-name teams and big-name stars set to participate and take center stage. The table is set for teams to defy odds, certain stars to take over in a small sample size, and the opportunity for upsets.

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Here is the official schedule for the 2021 NBA Play-In Tournament:


  • Game 1 – Boston Celtics vs. Washington Wizards (Tuesday, May 18, 9:00 p.m. ET)
  • Game 2 – Indiana Pacers vs. Charlotte Hornets (Tuesday, May 18, 6:30 p.m. ET)
  • Game 3 – Loser of Game 1 vs. Winner of Game 2 (Thursday, May 20, TBD)


  • Game 1 – Los Angeles Lakers vs. Golden State Warriors (Wednesday, May 19, 10:00 p.m. ET)
  • Game 2 – San Antonio Spurs vs. Memphis Grizzlies  (Wednesday, May 19, 7:30 p.m. ET)
  • Game 3 – Loser of Game 1 vs. Winner or Game 2  (Friday, May 21, TBD)

NBA Play-In Tournament Predictions


7th seed: Washington Wizards 

8th seed: Boston Celtics 

Quite frankly, I am extremely excited for the NBA’s Play-In Tournament and I believe that it’s going to be a hit amongst fans even if most NBA players and teams may not like it. In the East, I believe that the Wizards, with Bradely Beal back in the lineup, will beat the Celtics in a bit of an upset.

Boston beat Washington two out of their three meetings this season, but I believe the Wizards are playing at a different level. I have the Hornets beating the Pacers, but losing in a decisive Game 3 against the Celtics for the 8th seed.


7th seed: Los Angeles Lakers 

8th seed: Golden State Warriors 

As much as I’d like to see the Lakers get knocked out in the play-in tournament (mostly because of the story and chaos that would ensue), I simply can’t see it happening. LeBron James and Anthony Davis are back and I believe that this team will win and earn the 7th seed in Game 1.

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The Warriors will then beat the Grizzlies in Game 3 as the two teams battle it out for the 8th seed after Memphis beats the Spurs in Game 2.