The NBA added a nice bonus to its engaging final week of the 2020 season with a short play-in tournament for the No. 8 seed if the No. 9 seed in a conference was four or fewer games out. That’s the case in the Western Conference with the final spot in the NBA’s playoff bracket still up for grabs.
While the format is straightforward, it will probably be confusing to many NBA fans at first because it’s a new concept to the league.
Here’s a breakdown of what to expect from the play-in tournament, including the format and rules to fill out the NBA’s playoff picture:
MORE: NBA playoff scenarios for Thursday’s games
NBA play-in format, explained
There are two things we need to explain about the play-in format for the Western Conference 8-seed: how teams get into the tournament, and how they advance to the actual playoffs.
The No. 8 and No. 9 seeds in the West make it to the play-in round. Those spots were clinched Thursday night by the Trail Blazers and Grizzlies, respectively.
The play-in tournament itself is pretty simple. The No. 9 seed will need to win twice to make the playoffs. The No. 8 seed will need just a single victory. So, if the Trail Blazers win Saturday, then the tournament will end there. If the Grizzlies win Saturday, then that will set up a winner-take-all scenario Sunday.
If you’re wondering why there isn’t a play-in for the Eastern Conference, it’s because no one finished within four games of the No. 8 Magic. That’s the margin that activated the format.
NBA play-in tournament schedule
- Game 1: Saturday, Aug. 15
- Game 2 (if necessary): Sunday, Aug. 16
The NBA play-in tournament will wrap up this weekend in Orlando and finalize the league’s 2020 playoff bracket. Game 1 is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 15. Should the lesser seed win that contest, Game 2 would take place Sunday, Aug. 16, to settle the Western Conference’s last postseason spot.
TV coverage for Game 1 begins at 2:30 p.m. ET on ABC with Mike Breen, Mark Jackson and Lisa Salters on the call. Game 2, if necessary, will be shown on ESPN starting at 4:30 p.m. ET.
|Game 1||Saturday, Aug. 15||2:30 p.m. ET||ABC|
|*Game 2||Sunday, Aug. 16||4:30 p.m. ET||ESPN|
* if necessary
Western Conference 8-seed standings
Four teams battled for two play-in tournament spots Thursday. The season ended for the teams that finished 10th and 11th.
Here’s how the standings shaped up after each team’s final seeding game:
The Grizzlies are the ninth seed by virtue of a head-to-head tiebreaker over the Suns. Memphis won the season series 3-1.
When do the NBA playoffs start?
- Date: Monday, Aug. 17
Following the play-in tournament this weekend, the first round of the NBA postseason will begin on Monday. Matchups and schedules were determined by Thursday’s results.
Source Sporting News RSS