With the regular season done with, who will superstars like LaMelo Ball and Russell Westbrook face off against in the play in games?
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver’s play in tournament has proven to be quite the success in its first season. As the regular season came to a close, quite nearly every single game that included teams that were seeded between 6-10 in their respective conferences mattered more than ever. The Playoff picture implications took a massive turn following last night’s 15-game slate.
Both the Eastern and Western Conference play in tournament matchups have been officially locked in with superstars such as LeBron James and Steph Curry fighting to gain a spot in the play in tournament, alongside their counterparts out East with Jayson Tatum and LaMelo Ball following suit.
The Eastern Conference Play-In Tourney is set
No. 7 Celtics vs. No. 8 Wizards
No. 9 Pacers vs. No. 10 Hornets
Gonna be fun 🍿 pic.twitter.com/MChOEg1Dz0
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) May 16, 2021
Eastern Conference: Boston Celtics (7) vs Washington Wizards (8)
With Jaylen Brown being sidelined due to a season ending surgery, the Boston Celtics guard rotation is thinner than usual. Considering the one of nature of the play in tournament, the Celtics will most probably stick to an 8-man rotation that has Jayson Tatum, Kemba Walker, Evan Fournier and Marcus Smart sharing the floor alongside one another for the most part.
The Washington Wizards on the other hand, have two dynamic guards in Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal that the Celtics have no personnel to throw on. The Wizards also possess an excellent PnR big in Daniel Gafford, a defensive stretch big in Rui Hachimura, and a floor spacing knockdown shooter with Davis Bertans.
Eastern Conference: Indiana Pacers (9) vs Charlotte Hornets (10)
The Indiana Pacers have had an interesting season to say the least. Everything from in season trades to acquire Caris LeVert to injuries to guys like Myles Turner have caused the Pacers to spiral down the standings. Not to mention the fact that the locker room has essentially given up on playing for head coach Nate Bjorkgren, with rumors of an extreme disconnect existing between the coaching staff and the players.
The Charlotte Hornets are the exact opposite of the Pacers in terms of locker room chemistry as it’s very clear that both the veterans and the young guys mesh quite well together. The LaMelo Ball-Mile Bridges connection is as real as it gets and with scoring guards like Terry Rozier and Devonte Graham at the helm, the Hornets should be a tough out.
The only reason as to why the Hornets may not be as competitive as advertised would be due to Gordon Haywards’s absence. As exhilarating it is to watch LaMelo Ball play, the Buzz City representatives haven’t looked too great without him. With neither the Pacers nor the Hornets having a dominant defensive big, expect Domantas Sabonis to put up an All-Star worthy statline.