The NBA Postseason has arrived — sort of.
While the opening round isn’t slated to begin until Saturday, the Play-In Tournament will take place throughout the week. Each conference will try to determine the final two spots, with a total of eight teams still having life in this playoff picture.
The way it works is that the No. 7 seed and No. 8 seed in both the East and West will square off, with the winner advancing to the opening round as the No. 7 seed. The loser will face the winner of the 9-10 matchup, and the winner of that game will grab the final spot in each conference.
It all starts with a pair of 7-8 matchups on Tuesday, when the Miami Heat welcome the Atlanta Hawks to town at 7:30 p.m. ET. That game will be followed by a showdown between the No. 7 Los Angeles Lakers and the No. 8 Minnesota Timberwolves at 10 p.m. ET.
The two 9-10 meetings will then take place on Wednesday before the Play-In Tournament concludes on Friday.
Play-In Tournament Bettings Odds
Atlanta Hawks at Miami Heat (-4.5) | Total: 227
Minnesota Timberwolves at Los Angeles Lakers (-6.5) | Total: 229
Chicago Bulls at Toronto Raptors (-5) | Total: 214.5
Oklahoma City Thunder at New Orleans Pelicans (-5) | Total: 228.5
Timberwolves (+6.5) at Lakers
The Lakers posted the best record in the NBA after the All-Star Break, and are now priced at +1200 to win the NBA Finals at WynnBET. Only six teams in the Association have better odds to win it all than the Lakers, and each of those six squads are currently in the dance.
Los Angeles should be able to win one of two home play-in games, and might even take care of business in this one against Minnesota. After all, I saw firsthand the Lakers earn a 123-111 victory over the Timberwolves in Minneapolis on March 31.
But this spread is a touch too high for a Los Angeles squad that is just 1-3 against the spread over the last four outings. The Lakers are 40-41-1 ATS on the year, and 10-12 as a home favorite. The Wolves are 24-19 as an underdog, and will be plenty motivated to make the playoffs in back-to-back years.
Thunder (+5) at Pelicans
Speaking of motivation, the Thunder have a chance to make the postseason for the first time since 2020. This is a young team that nobody expected to be here, as Oklahoma City had won 24 games and 22 games in each of the last two seasons.
Led by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Oklahoma City crushed its preseason win total of 23.5 en route to a 40-42 campaign. The Thunder are playing with house money, and that should only increase their chances on the road on Wednesday.
New Orleans lost its regular-season finale in Minneapolis, when the team had a chance to climb as high as the No. 6 seed with a win. The Pelicans could bounce back at home, but don’t be surprised if the Thunder hang around longer than expected.
Heat over Hawks for No. 7 seed
Lakers over Timberwolves for No. 7 seed
Bulls over Raptors
Thunder over Pelicans
Hawks over Bulls for No. 8 seed
Timberwolves over Thunder for No. 8 seed