2020 was a year that most of us would sooner forget. While sports fell down the ladder in terms of importance during the pandemic, we were all happy to see the major leagues return to keep us somewhat entertained. All the leagues needed to find a way to close out seasons and change the rules a little to get the job done. In the NBA, that meant heading into the bubble and adding play-in games to create something of a level footing. It now looks as though the play-in is here to stay, so let’s take a moment to talk about how it works and how both conferences look right now. With that in mind, let’s get right to it so you can continue planning your bets against their NBA Playoffs odds.
NBA Betting Analysis – Play-In Tournament Rapidly Approaching
In previous years, the top 8 teams in each conference automatically made it into the playoffs, but that has changed this season. Now, it will be the top 6 teams that nab an automatic berth, with the teams in the 7 through 10 spots taking part in the play-in tournament, which has a simple enough format to follow. The #7 and #8 seeds will play, with the winner of that one taking the #7 seed. The loser will then go on to face the winner of the game that pits the #9 and #10 seeds, with the winner of that match-up landing the #8 seed in the playoffs proper. What that means is that we could potentially see a team ranked in the #10 spot at the end of the season make it into the playoffs, but they would need to win 2 games to do it.
Current Conference Standings
So, now that we know the format, we thought it might be fun to see how that would translate to the current standings. Let’s get the ball rolling with the Eastern Conference.
While the three teams that will occupy the 8, 9, and 10 seeds in the East look to be all but set, we could still see a change in the #7 spot. Right now, it is the Boston Celtics who occupy that spot, but they are also just a half game back of the Miami Heat for the final automatic playoff entry. That aside, if the season was to end today, the Celtics would take on the Charlotte Hornets in the 7/8 game, while the Indiana Pacers and Washington Wizards would go head-to-head in the other play-in game. Oddly enough, while the Wizards have the worst conference record of the 4, they also are in the best form, so who knows what might happen here.
It is a very similar story in the Western Conference, with the Portland Trail Blazers the team with the best shot at hauling themselves into the automatic playoff spots. As far as the other 3 spots go, the battle is ridiculously tight, with all 3 teams separated by a single game. Right now, the Trail Blazers would go against the Golden State Warriors, while the Memphis Grizzlies and San Antonio Spurs would meet in the 9/10 game. It’s a tightly bunched group in the West, so picking which two teams make it out is going to be tough to do.
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