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NBA Play In Tournament Odds and Picks

Like it or not the play-in tournament is a part of the NBA. For the third consecutive season the league will use this specific format to determine the final two playoff teams in each conference. Though not considered part of the NBA playoffs, the tournament gives teams a chance that under the old format wouldn’t have had the opportunity. The last spots in the play-in weren’t decided until the final week of the season which made for an exciting finish for some teams and fans of the game. It also gives bettors an extra layer of matchups on which to wager.

The No. 7 seeds have the easiest path to the playoffs needing just one home win to qualify. And so far those teams haven’t disappointed winning both games in each of the last two tournaments. That bodes well for the Lakers in the West and Miami in the East. On the other end we have yet to see a No. 10 seed advance or even win a game in the two previous play-in tournaments. The way the season unfolded, however, things were tight in both conferences. A late season surge by the Lakers moved them to a seven-seed, but they were just one game better than Minnesota and New Orleans and three games clear of No. 10 OKC. In the East the Heat were one game out of the top six and four games better than No. 10 Chicago. At 40-42, Chicago and OKC were the only teams in the tournament to finish below .500.

2023 NBA Play-In Tournament Schedule

Eastern Conference

No. 8 Atlanta at No. 7 Miami, Tuesday, April 11, 7:30 p.m. ET (TNT)

No 10 Chicago at No. 9 Toronto, Wednesday, April 12, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN)

Winner 9/10 Game at Loser 8/7 Game, Friday, April 14, TBD (TNT)

Western Conference

No. 8 Minnesota at No. 7 LA Lakers, Tuesday, April 11, 10 ET (TNT)

No. 10 Oklahoma City at No. 9 New Orleans, Wednesday, April 12, 9:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)

Winner 9/10 Game at Loser 8/7 Game, Friday, April 14, TBD (ESPN)

Eastern Conference

Miami had the best record in the Eastern Conference last season and weren’t that bad this year finishing 44-38, despite dealing with injuries to several key players in the middle of the campaign. They also closed on a positive note winning four of five games in April and cashing the OVER in every one. I would like the Hawks a lot more if they played defense. It’s hard to go out and just outscore teams on a nightly basis, but they’ve surrendered a lot of points to a Heat squad that isn’t known for its offense and yielded 256 total points in back to back losses to Philly and Boston.

No 10-seed has ever won a play-in game and I don’t like Chicago’s chances against Toronto. The Raps won two of three regular season meetings and effectively shut down former teammate and Bulls second leading scorer DeMar DeRozan limiting him to an average of 14 points, more than 10 points below his season average.

This scenario sets up a Toronto/Atlanta matchup for the No. 8 playoff seed. Again, Atlanta’s defense is a concern, but the Hawks played an inspired game in the last meeting holding the Raps down in a 114-103 road win giving the Atlanta a 2-1 edge in the season series. There are a number of distractions surrounding Toronto and trip to the playoffs would be helpful, but they’re more of a detriment at this point.

Western Conference

Though the teams were separated by just one game in the regular season standings, the Lakers are the biggest favorite in any of the opening four play-in games. Closing with wins in nine of their last 11 games, the Lakers moved from outside the postseason picture to having a crack at a top-six. It didn’t work out with the Clippers and Golden State each winning their last three, but the Lakers are among the hottest teams in the tournament boasting outrageous +1400 odds to reach the playoffs. They’re also laying 6.5-points to the Wolves.

The Thunder have a glorious opportunity to become the first 10-seed to win a play-in game. And considering few had them in this position at the start of the season they are essentially playing with house money. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has emerged as a bona fide star in the league averaging over 31 points for the season and 33.5 points, 8.0 rebounds and 4.3 assists in four games against the Pels. Zion Williamson has been ruled out of the play-in tournament giving the underdog Thunder hope of covering the 5-point spread.

The first three games of the season series were decided by a total of 10 points with New Orleans winning them all. OKC won the most recent contest, 110-96, in the Big Easy back in March. Though Williamson won’t play, the Pels will look different with Brandon Ingram back in the lineup after missing 37 games during the campaign with various ailments. He got greased up for the tournament by scoring 42 points against Minnesota in the finale while averaging 29 points in his last 10 games.

View today’s NBA betting odds.

Jake Flynn
Jake Flynn
Senior writer for Writes NBA, NCAA basketball, MLB, UFC and daily fantasy sports articles.

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