NBA Play-In Tournament Predictions: Red-hot Lakers, Sixers punch their tickets

With the start of the NBA Play-In Tournament on the horizon, we predict the four teams that will qualify for the official playoff field.
Detroit Pistons v Philadelphia 76ers
Detroit Pistons v Philadelphia 76ers / Tim Nwachukwu/GettyImages
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In our NBA Play-In Tournament predictions, the Los Angeles Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers continue their hot streak into the final playoff field.

The 2023-24 NBA regular season is officially over and the start of the NBA Playoffs is nearly here. The NBA Play-In Tournament, which runs from April 16-19 begins this week and the NBA Playoff starts April 20. With the NBA Play-In Tournament on the horizon, we make some predictions as eight teams fight for the final four playoff spots (two in each conference) this week.

Eastern Conference Play-In Tournament Schedule

(7) Philadelphia 76ers vs. Miami Heat (8) - Wednesday, April 17 - 7:00 p.m. ET
(9) Chicago Bulls vs. Atlanta Hawks (10) - Wednesday, April 17 - 9:30 p.m. ET
Winner 9/10 vs. loser 7/8 - Friday, April 19 - TBD

West Play-In Tournament Schedule

(7) New Orleans Pelicans vs. Los Angeles Lakers (8) - Tuesday, April 16 - 7:00 p.m. ET
(9) Sacramento Kings vs. Golden State Warriors (10) - Tuesday, April 16 - 9:30 p.m. ET
Winner 9/10 vs. loser 7/8 - Friday, April 19 - TBD

(9) Chicago Bulls vs. Atlanta Hawks (10)

In what has been a Play-In Tournament matchup that has been locked in for more than a week now, the Atlanta Hawks, as the 10th seed, will take on the Chicago Bulls, the 9th seed, in a win-or-go-home contest. The winner of this game will then advance to take on the loser of the (7th-8th seed game) in a battle for the 8th and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Now that the logistics are out of the way, let's dive into this matchup. On paper, you'd assume that the Bulls would be the favorites. They've been the more consistent team this season, even without Zach LaVine and Patrick Williams, and are more healthy at the moment than the Hawks. Trae Young is back but still working his way into playing shape while Jalen Johnson and Onyeka Okongwu have been listed as out for this game. Of note, the Bulls are also 2-1 against the Hawks this season. Playing at home also helps.

However, I just have this feeling that the Hawks will pull through in this matchup. We've seen how dangerous the Hawks can be on any given night, beating the Boston Celtics earlier this month in back-to-back games and I believe the return of Young will certainly help their cause too.

In what will likely be a close game, I predict the Hawks will find a way to come out on top.

Prediction: Atlanta Hawks