Home Sports Russell Westbrook, Bradley Beal lead Wizards’ improbable run into play-in game; East...

Russell Westbrook, Bradley Beal lead Wizards’ improbable run into play-in game; East matchups set


The NBA play-in game matchups are taking shape.

Washington defeated Charlotte on Sunday, earning eighth place with a 34-38 record and will play seventh-place Boston in an Eastern Conference play-in game on Tuesday. The Pacers defeated Toronto and will get the ninth spot and a matchup against the 10th-place Hornets in the other East play-in game.

Designed to create excitement, make more games meaningful and curtail tanking, the play-in game format added intrigue to the final days of the 2020-21 NBA season.

Teams either tried to avoid or make the play-in game.

The Wizards produced a memorable end to their regular season. They were 17-32 on April 6 and in 13th-place in the East. The playoffs did not seem probable. But Bradley Beal kept scoring, Russell Westbrook racked up triple-doubles and the Wizards started winning.

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The Wizards finished the season 17-6, the second-best winning percentage in the league in the final six weeks of the regular season.

In the West, the Los Angeles Lakers need a win against New Orleans and a Portland loss to Denver later on Sunday to avoid the play-in game. If Portland wins, the Lakers will end up in seventh place and in the play-in game against eighth-place Golden State.

The Warriors beat Memphis on Sunday and finished a game ahead of the Grizzlies with a 39-33 record. Had Memphis won, it would’ve ended in eighth place. Instead, the Grizzlies are ninth and will play 10th-place San Antonio in a play-in game. The Warriors will face either the Lakers or Blazers in the 7-8 play-in game.

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Here’s how the play-in game format works:

The seventh-and eighth-place teams play each other and the winner earns the No. 7 seed. The loser of that game plays the winner of the 9-10 game. The winner of that game becomes the No. 8 seed. To give the teams that had a better record during the regular season an advantage, teams 7-8 need to win just one play-in game to advance and teams 9-10 need to win two games.

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The play-in games take place Tuesday-Friday with the 16-team, best-of-7 playoffs beginning Saturday.

Here is the play-in game schedule (all times Eastern):

Tuesday

Eastern Conference

Tenth-place Charlotte vs. ninth-place Indiana, 6:30 p.m., TNT

Eighth-place Washington vs. seventh-place Boston, 9 p.m., TNT

Western Conference

Wednesday

Tenth-place San Antonio vs. ninth-place Memphis, 7:30 p.m., ESPN

Eighth-place Golden State vs. seventh-place team (Portland or Los Angeles Lakers), 10 p.m., ESPN

Eastern Conference

Thursday

Ninth-10th winner vs. 7-8 loser, 8 p.m., TNT

Western Conference

Friday

Ninth-10th winner vs. 7-8 loser, start time TBD, ESPN

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Wizards reach play-in game after improbable run; East matchups set

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