With the 2020-21 NBA regular season entering the final week, several teams are now keen on securing their place for the postseason. As things stand, defending champions Los Angeles Lakers, the Golden State Warriors, the Memphis Grizzlies and the San Antonio Spurs are currently set to square off for the play-in tournament in the Western Conference standings. Here's a look at our prediction for the Western Conference teams in the play-in tournament.
The NBA implemented the play-in tournament to give more teams a fair shot at reaching the postseason in the Orlando Bubble in 2020. It was a relative success, with the Portland Trail Blazers going on a run to steal the 8-seed from the Memphis Grizzlies in the Western Conference. As a result, the play-in tournament is set to continue into the 2020-21 season, but the format is a bit different.
Here's a look at the NBA playoff and play-in tournament brackets entering Saturday, May 8th. pic.twitter.com/Sbcn2QMTtW— Tomer Pfizarly (@TomerAzarly) May 8, 2021
From both the Eastern and Western Conferences, four teams will partake in the play-in tournament. Seeds 7-10 will form a bracket where there will be three games total. First, the 7-8 seeds will play each other to decide who will be the 7-seed. The loser of that game plays the winner of the 9-10 game to determine who will be the 8-seed. Here’s a bit of an outline courtesy of NBA.com. After the play-in tournament is over, it’s the normal 16-team format with seeds 1-8 facing each other in each conference.
The NBA play-in tournament will begin on May 18 and conclude on May 21 — the 2021 NBA playoffs will then start the day after on Saturday, May 22.
Western Conference (As things stand)
At the moment, the Los Angeles Lakers are in seventh on the Western Conference standings, with 38 wins, one less than sixth-placed Trail Blazers. The Warriors are in eighth place with 35 wins and 33 defeats. They are followed by the Memphis Grizzlies, who have 34 wins. The Spurs are currently in 10th place with 32 wins following by the Pelicans (31 wins) and Kings (30 wins).
The Lakers will be sweating over the fitness of star man LeBron James ahead of the play-in tournament. As things stand, they are expected to face Steph Curry's Warriors. There are bound to be a few interesting battles with the teams in the Western Conference. However, our prediction is that the Lakers and Warriors will clinch a place in the postseason.
So far, the Jazz, the Suns, the Clippers, and the Nuggets have sealed their playoffs berth from the Western Conference.