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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(8) Miami Heat vs. Atlanta Hawks (10)

In what will be a rematch of last year's NBA Play-In Tournament opening game in the Eastern Conference, in which the Atlanta Hawks outplayed the Miami Heat to secure the 7th seed, this pairing could be quite interesting for several reasons. A loss by either team here likely points to big changes coming during the offseason. The history that both teams have in the postseason offers another added layer of intrigue. I'm not sure either team is going to be eager to take on the Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs, but making the top 8 certainly beats an early start to the offseason.

Neither the Heat nor Hawks are playing great basketball at the moment and it'll be difficult to know what to expect from either side. In the end, I'd favor experience in this elimination game.

While I do believe that the Hawks could put up a strong fight, especially with the return of Young back in the lineup, I think the Heat will find a way to punch their ticket into the NBA Playoffs. Miami is slightly healthier, assuming Terry Rozier is ready to go, and Playoff Jimmy is going to do what it takes to get Miami into the dance.

Prediction: Miami Heat