NBA Play In Qualification Ramps Up

The NBA Play-In Tournament is the league’s latest innovation to its postseason format, and we’re only a few weeks away from it. It has opened up the league’s playoffs to a handful of teams that would have otherwise been counting the days until they hit the links. And the competition for its field is getting tight.

In case you don’t know, here’s how it works: the No. 7 and No. 8 teams in each conference will play one another while the No. 9 and No. 10 teams from each conference will also face off. The winners of the 7-8 game will slot into the No. 7 seed spots in the playoffs. The losers will play the winners of the 9-10 games, with those winners becoming the No. 8 seeds in their respective conference playoffs. From there, it’s the traditional 16-team, 1-8, best-of-seven series format you know the NBA Playoffs to be.

Most teams have played 64 or 65 of their 72 regular season games set for the 2020-21 NBA season. There are only seven or eight games left to decide who will be forced to participate in The Play-In Tournament and who will be celebrating that they may participate in The Play-In Tournament.

In the East, the race to avoid The Play-In Tournament is fierce. As of Monday afternoon, the New York Knicks were No. 4 in the conference and 2.5 games above the new bonus round bar, while the Atlanta Hawks and Miami Heat lead the Boston Celtics by just one game for the No. 5 and No. 6 spots that secure NBA Playoff safety. In the middle of the mayhem, the Charlotte Hornets lead the Indiana Pacers for the No. 8 spot by just 0.5 game, and the Washington Wizards have a 2.5-game cushion above the Toronto Raptors for the final Play-In Tournament birth.

The West is even more contentious, with only 4.5 games separating the Dallas Mavericks at No. 5 and the San Antonio Spurs at No. 10. The Mavs, the Los Angeles Lakers, and the Portland Trail Blazers are all tied at 36-28 in the fight to skip the NBA play in, while the Memphis Grizzlies, Golden State Warriors, and Spurs are all separated by one game for the No. 8, 9, and 10 spots in the conference, respectively. The New Orleans Pelicans are the closest ones outside the clubs angling to get in but are 3.5 games back of San Antonio.

In a couple weeks, there will be some very annoyed teams that will be required to win extra games to get into the NBA Playoffs. There will also be some overjoyed teams that cannot wait for their chance at redemption for a middling regular season. You can guarantee there will be drama surrounding the NBA play in games.

Now for some other news from across the sport this week:

Nothing But News: April 27-May 3, 2021

LeBron James appears unhappy with the NBA play-in tournament concept, a complete 180 from how he felt about the idea in 2020.

Rennia Davis, the No. 9 overall pick in the 2021 WNBA Draft to the Minnesota Lynx, is out indefinitely with a stress fracture in her left foot.

The New York Knicks have clinched at least a .500 record for the first time since 2012. They currently sit fourth in the East at 36-28.

Seattle Storm star Breanna Stewart announced her engagement to Marta Xargay of the Phoenix Mercury.

Duke women’s basketball has added six transfers to its squad for the 2021-22 season, including former Texas player Celeste Taylor, Lexi Gordon of Texas Tech, and Jordyn Oliver from Baylor.

Tyrese Haliburton suffered a left knee injury Sunday in Sacramento’s game against Dallas that sent him to the locker room in the third quarter. The two-time Rookie of the Month will get an MRI on Monday, and reports around the prognosis appear positive.

Get Caught Up on NBN Content!

Here’s a recap of some of our content from the last week:

All-Mark Turgeon Maryland Teams: Reflecting on 10 Years of Terps Hoops

Justin Meyer collected eight other Maryland media alumni friends, and all nine voted on their First, Second, and Third Teams of Terps who played under Mark Turgeon. It’s officially been a decade for the Turg, so let’s celebrate/commiserate/accept the reality we face with this 10-year reflection.

Rachel Banham: The Human Turntable

We’ve coined Rachel Banham as “The Human Turntable,” because she stays spinning records. This is a look at her hoops career moments dating all the way back to her eighth grade year.

Rachel Banham is entering her fifth WNBA season. While in college, she set countless records and is one of the best NCAA players ever. This is her career.
Photo credit to Lorie Shaull.

Lola Lesmond Breaks Barriers with Basketball

Lola Lesmond moved from France to Illinois as a young teen when her dad’s job brought the family across the Atlantic Ocean. She didn’t come with tons of English skills, but her basketball skills traveled well. Now, she’s committed to Yale, and she’s grown a lot in the process.

Lola Lesmond

WNBA Highest Paid Players in 2021

There are seven players who will be on supermax contracts in the WNBA in 2021. Check out the highest paid players in the W, plus the next-highest earners in the league.

These are the WNBA highest paid players in 2021 who will be stepping on the court. The latest CBA allows a bigger max deal, and some players capitalized.

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