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What to Know About the NBA’s Play-In Tournament This Week

·2-min read

Mike Ehrmann/Getty

The NBA 2020-2021 postseason has officially begun.

The league kicks off its Play-In Tournament on Tuesday night, which will see Eastern and Western Conference teams seeded seventh to tenth place compete for a spot in the playoffs. The league first introduced the tournament last year, when the NBA resumed operations following the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The first night of the tournament airs on TNT starting at 6:30 p.m. EST and will see the Charlotte Hornets (tenth seed) take on the Indiana Pacers (ninth seed). This will be followed by a match-up between the Washington Wizards (eighth seed) and the Boston Celtics (seventh seed) at 9:00 p.m. EST.

The winner of the Wizards and Celtics game will officially earn the seventh seed of the Eastern Conference while the loser will move on to compete for the eighth seed.

Then, on Wednesday night, the San Antonio Spurs (10th seed) will play against the Memphis Grizzlies (ninth seed), followed by a highly-anticipated matchup between Stephen Curry's Golden State Warriors (eighth seed) and LeBron James' Los Angeles Lakers (seventh seed). Both games will air consecutively on ESPN starting a 7:30 p.m. EST.

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Following the conclusion of the first two days of the tournament, the winner of the Hornets and Pacers game will face the team that lost the Wizards and Celtics match-up on Thursday night. They'll compete for the East's eighth seed.

Then, on Friday, the winner between the Spurs and Grizzlies game will face the loser of the Lakers and Warriors game for the final spot in the Western Conference.

Still confused? The NBA has a bracket visualization that better lays out the schedule.

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After the tournament is concluded, the playoffs will begin in earnest on Saturday, May 22.

James, who helped lead the Lakers to victory in the 2020 NBA Finals, has previously criticized the adoption of a play-in tournament.

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"Whoever came up with that (expletive) needs to be fired," James said of the tournament, according to USA Today.

"Let the chips fall where they may," he previously said of the possibility the Lakers could fall in the Western Conference standings and have to compete in the play-in. "Simple as that. We're ready to go."

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