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NBA Recap: Playoff Seeding, Play-In Tournament, and More

Image shows Stephen Curry on the left and Lebron James on the right (image from Sports Illustrated)

It’s official! The 2020-21 NBA regular season is over and the play-in-tournament and the postseason are right around the corner. Here’s everything you need to know:

Playoff Seeding:

As the regular season came to a finale, playoff seeding came down to the wire.

As the Milwaukee Bucks defeated the Miami Heat, the New York Knicks clinched the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference. They New York Knicks will have homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs and are set to begin their postseason a week from now at Madison Square Garden.

After a dominant victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday afternoon, the Brooklyn Nets were able to secure the second seed in the Eastern Conference. Although Durant and Irving both had solid outings, the third member of the Nets’ All-Star trio, James Harden, sat out of Saturday’s contest. Despite their insane firepower, the overall health of the Nets raises a concern for many as Durant, Irving, and Harden have just played 8 games with one another. It will be interesting to see if there will be any chemistry issues come the postseason.

On Sunday evening, the Portland Trailblazers handily defeated the Denver Nuggets. As a result, the Trailblazers would clinch the sixth seed, avoiding the play-in-tournament. The Los Angeles Lakers would then fall to the seventh seed and are set to face the Golden State Warriors in the first round of the play-in game.

As the Los Angeles Clippers were defeated Sunday evening by the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Denver Nuggets secured the third seed in the Western Conference and the Los Angeles Clippers fell to the fourth seed. Although the Nuggets and the Clippers had identical win-loss records, the Denver Nuggets have a better record in their head-to-head matchups, giving them the edge in the standings. As such, the Nuggets will face the Portland Trailblazers in the first round of the playoffs and the Los Angeles Clippers will have a first round rematch against the Dallas Mavericks.


Implemented since the 2019-20 season, the newly implemented controversial has been controversial to say the least. Following the Lakers defeat to the Toronto Raptors, Lebron James said in his post-game interview, “whoever came up with that s— needs to be fired.”

Nevertheless, let’s break down the play-in-tournament format for the 2021 season:

The teams with the 7th and 8th best record in their respective conferences will face off, with the winner securing the 7th seed. Also, the teams with the 9th and 10th best records in their conferences will also face each other, with the loser eliminated from postseason contention and the winner moving on to face the loser of the 7th/8th seed game. The winner of this final game would secure the 8th seed in their respective conference and the loser would be eliminated from the postseason.

This year NBA fans are in for a treat as Lebron James and the Lakers (7th in the West) are set to face Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors (8th in the West) in what many hope to be a marquee matchup. The winner of this matchup will secure a playoff spot, securing the 7th seed, and the loser will face the winner of the Grizzlies vs. Spurs game (9th and 10th seeds respectively).

In the Eastern Conference, the Jayson Tatum and the Boston Celtics are set to face Russell Westbrook and the Washington Wizards in a battle for the 7th seed. The winner of course would secure the 7th seed and the loser would face the winner of Pacers vs. Hornets game.

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