NBA Play-In Tournament Betting Preview

The NBA regular season finished on Sunday, and the top six seeds in each conference have been decided. The biggest news was in the Western Conference, where the three-way tie for first ended with the Oklahoma City Thunder as the No. 1 seed, the Denver Nuggets as the No. 2 seed, and the Minnesota Timberwolves at three.

Minnesota will play the sixth-seeded Phoenix Suns, and the Los Angeles Clippers, as the four-seed, will host the Dallas Mavericks.

The Play-In Tournament begins on Tuesday to decide the first round opponents for the Thunder and Nuggets.

Western Conference Play-In

No. 8 Los Angeles Lakers at No. 7 New Orleans Pelicans (-1)

The first game on Tuesday features the Los Angeles Lakers at the New Orleans Pelicans, a matchup we just saw on Sunday, and one that was won by the Lakers by 16 points.

New Orleans is the slight favorite here. But LeBron James played with energy in the season-finale win, and led the way with a triple-double. Anthony Davis left in the closing minutes with a tight back, but said, “There’s no doubt I’m going to play [Tuesday].”

Tuesday’s winner will become the No. 7 seed and play the Nuggets in the first round. The loser will play another game on Friday in the hopes of becoming the eighth seed.

No. 10 Golden State Warriors (-2) at No. 9 Sacramento Kings

Since dropping the first game of a five-game road trip more than three weeks ago, the Golden State Warriors have been one of the hottest teams in the NBA. They lost at Minnesota, 114-110, but have gone 10-2 since then, including 7-1 on the road.

They are on the road Tuesday at the Sacramento Kings, and their recent play has the Warriors the two-point road favorite.

The Kings have lost five of their last seven games, and four of their last six games at home. Against the Warriors, they are 2-2 this season.

The loser on Tuesday is eliminated, and the winner will play on Friday for the No. 8 seed.

Eastern Conference Play-In

No. 8 Miami Heat at No. 7 Philadelphia 76ers (-4.5)

Normally, this game is played the same night that the West has its No. 7 and No. 8 seeds play. But by virtue of clinching the seventh-seed, the Philadelphia 76ers screwed that up. Their building is busy on Tuesday hosting an NHL game, so this game moves to Wednesday.

The change in schedule is a benefit to the Sixers by giving Joel Embiid another day to rest his surgically repaired knee. He missed Sunday’s game after tweaking it. The good news, Philadelphia won anyway – their eighth win in a row – and one of those wins came against the Miami Heat.

The winner of this game on Wednesday will be the No. 7 seed and play a first round series against the New York Knicks. The Knicks locked up the No. 2 seed by beating the Chicago Bulls on Sunday.

No. 10 Atlanta Hawks at No. 9 Chicago Bulls (-3)

Wednesday’s nightcap involves those same Chicago Bulls hosting the Atlanta Hawks. Neither of these teams has been very good down the stretch – the Bulls have won just five of their last 13 games, while the Hawks have lost six straight games, including losses of 32 points and 42 points.

That is why Chicago is the favorite, even with a below .500 record. Atlanta is that much worse. However, the Hawks did win in Chicago just two weeks ago, but that required them to be uncharacteristically hot from three-point range. In order for them to win on Wednesday and move on to Friday’s Play-In finale, they will need more of the same.

The loser’s season is over. The winner moves on with a chance to win their way to a first-round matchup against the NBA’s best team, the Boston Celtics.

Elsewhere in the East, the Milwaukee Bucks and Indiana Pacers will meet in the first round, and the Cleveland Cavaliers will host the Orlando Magic.

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