Russell Westbrook and the Washington Wizards to clinch the 8th seed to potentially face Jayson Tatum’s Boston Celtics in the play-in tournament.
The NBA regular season has finally reached its final leg, and it couldn’t be more exciting for fans of the NBA. The biggest reason for this is of course the introduction of the play-in tournament.
This tournament concerns the 4 teams that sit between the 7th and 10th seed of either conference. After the end of the regular season, the 7th and 8th seeded teams will play against one another to be anointed as the 7th seed. The loser of this game will face off against the winner of the game between the 9th and 10th seed, to attain the 8th seed. All of these games will be sudden death.
Earlier, we had written an article about predicting the play-in matchups for the Western Conference. But, with the East being as competitive and interesting as it is, how could we leave it be?
And so, after deeply analyzing the schedule and the form of the different franchises, here are our predicted matchups for the play-in tournament.
Eastern Conference Play-in Tournament Predictions
Boston Celtics (7th Seed) vs Washington Wizards (8th seed)
The Boston Celtics were far too inconsistent in the middle of the season, which is why, as things stand, they sit 7th in the East. And their upcoming schedule doesn’t help much with that either.
Their games against the Cavaliers and Timberwolves shouldn’t be too much of a challenge, however, 2 outings against the Heat and one against the Knicks absolutely will be.
Still, while the team probably won’t catch 6th seeded Miami, they likely have enough in the tank to hold their position till the end of the regular season.
Unlike the Celtics, the Washington Wizards have been very consistent this season. Although, it has taken some time for that to be consistently helpless to incredible every game.
Russell Westbrook has been a big part of that process and is likely to continue his terrific form alongside Bradley Beal for the team.
They currently sit 10th in the East, but their schedule makes it likely they go higher. The toughest games the Wizards have at the moment, are the two against the Hawks. Apart from that matches against the Pacers, Cavaliers and Hornets are very much winnable for the franchise.
With that in mind, we believe Washington will usurp 8th seeded Hornets and 9th seeded Pacers to secure the 8th spot.
Charlotte Hornets (9th Seed) vs Indiana Pacers (10th seed)
The Charlotte Hornets have been one of the more surprisingly competitive teams in the NBA this season. The franchise was actually soaring as high as the 4th seed at one point in the season. However, injuries to LaMelo Ball, Malik Monk, Gordan Hayward, and Devonte’ Graham caused them to plummet in the standings.
The franchise is currently hanging onto the 8th seed for dear life. However, with the team having a terrible schedule, and the Wizards having some serious momentum at the moment, it is tough to see them being able to retain it. Instead, we believe they will drop down to the 9th seed ahead of the postseason.
Speaking of injuries, the Indiana Pacers aren’t far behind. In fact, unfortunately for them, they are miles ahead (no pun intended).
Myles Turner is out indefinitely with a toe injury. pic.twitter.com/EWL1t3E9sL
— NBA TV (@NBATV) April 19, 2021
Malcolm Brogdon, Jeremy Lamb, JaKarr Sampson, Myles Turner, and T.J. Warren are all injured at the moment. There are all key players in the franchise’s rotation, making their absence that much more painful.
The franchise’s schedule doesn’t exactly help them either. Games against the Wizards, 76ers, Bucks and Lakers will worry the franchise profusely. The only consolation for the team, are their games against the Cavaliers and Raptors, which are somewhat winnable.
What allows the Pacers to sneak in as the 10th seed though, are the Chicago Bulls. As the 11th seed, the franchise simply hasn’t done well enough to pose any real challenge and is unlikely to trouble Indiana ahead of the play-in.
These are some interesting games, to say the least. However, only time will tell if the fixtures truly shake out this way. And if they do, it is still anyone’s guess who will make it through to the 2021 NBA playoffs.