The Detroit Pistons season might be over, but basketball is continuing. For the first time it will feature a play-in tournament which is like a pre-post-season. Essentially, it’s a way to hoover up all the bad teams that would have made the playoffs and gotten swept in the first round, add some additional bad teams that would have missed the cut but are probably pretty close to other bad teams talent-wise, and then smoosh them all together and make them play against each other in single-elimination play.
Is it a good idea? Probably not. Will it be fun to watch? Most definitely. Do any of these teams have a snowball’s chance to get out of the first round? Actually, yes.
First, the details.
East: Tuesday, May 18
West: Wednesday, May 19
East: Thursday, May 20
Winner of Pacers/Hornets vs. Loser of Celtics/Wizards, 8 p.m. EST, TNT
West: Friday, May 21
Winner of Grizzlies/Spurs vs. Loser of Lakers/Warriors
If that’s confusing to look at, it boils down to this. The 9 and 10 seeds need to win two games to get into the playoffs while the 7 and 8 seeds need to win one game to get into the playoffs.
The Eastern Conference is, as always, a dumpster fire. Caris LeVert is going to miss the next two weeks in health and safety protocols and the Pacers are injured up and down the roster. The Hornets are just not very good and LaMelo Ball hasn’t been as amazing since coming back from his own injury.
The Celtics, meanwhile, are simply a team that needs to be put out of its misery. It’s been a season from hell, they are missing Jaylen Brown and it doesn’t seem like anyone wants to be there. Even Celtics fans are probably rooting for a quick exit. That means Russell Westbrook needs to not pull a Westbrook in the playoffs and actually finish them off.
The West is much more interesting — at least the Lakers vs. the Warriors. Steph Curry has vaulted the Warriors into the playoffs and entered the MVP conversation (where he might finish third, which isn’t nothing!). The Lakers are the defending champs and are trying to re-establish themselves after missing both LeBron James and Anthony Davis for long stretches.
Plus, it’s our chance to see Andre Drummond march his way to the finals or become the reason the Lakers don’t repeat and enters the crosshairs of Lakers nation.