By Isaac Rangel
The NBA playoffs are coming fast–the set date for them to start is Tuesday, May 18, however it is not the actual first round of the playoffs that start that day, it is the “play-in tournament” that starts on May 18. The play-in tournament is the new format that the NBA started this season where the numbers 7, 8, 9, and 10 seeds play against each other to make it into the standard 8-team playoffs. The winner of the matchup between the 7 and 8 seeds is automatically in and secures the number 7 seed. The loser between the 7 and 8 seed still has a chance because whoever wins between the 9 and 10 seed plays against the loser between the 7 and 8 seed. The winner of that game then secures the 8 seed.
These “play-in” games will last from May 18-21. The traditional 8-team playoffs begin on May 22 and the Finals will start on July 8.
Here are the standings for both conferences (if the season ended today):
|EASTERN CONFERENCE||WESTERN CONFERENCE|
|1. Philadelphia 76ers||1. Utah Jazz|
|2. Brooklyn Nets||2. Phoenix Suns|
|3. Milwaukee Bucks||3. LA Clippers|
|4. New York Knicks||4. Denver Nuggets|
|5. Atlanta Hawks||5. Dallas Mavericks|
|6. Miami Heat||6. Portland Trailblazers|
|*Play-In Teams (7-10)||*Play-In Teams (7-10)|
|7. Boston Celtics||7. LA Lakers|
|8. Charlotte Hornets||8. Golden State Warriors|
|9. Washington Wizards||9. Memphis Grizzlies|
|10. Indiana Pacers||10. San Antonio Spurs|
Many analysts and fans feel that the favorites and the team to beat this year is the Brooklyn Nets because of the fact that they have 3 superstar players (pictured). In the East, many people see the Bucks and the Sixers as the only teams that can compete with the Nets. And in the West, most people think that the Nuggets, Clippers, and Lakers are the teams who are most likely to make it out of the West, even though the Utah Jazz and surprisingly the Phoenix Suns are having great seasons and holding the 1 and 2 seed, respectively.
Many NBA fans, however, just don’t believe in Utah or Phoenix, simply because of the fact that they have never seen these two teams do some serious things in the playoffs. Fans see the Lakers as the favorites to win the West if they are fully healthy (LeBron James has been dealing with the worst injury of his career), and can also see them beating the Nets if they meet up in the Finals. The Lakers have four games remaining in the regular season (ending Sunday, May 16) to try and avoid the play-in tournament, as they are currently 1 game behind the #6 seed Trailblazers.