The 2021-22 NBA regular season has officially ended and now the road to the playoffs has entered the Play-In stage. Eight teams, four spots, it’s about to get real. This is the second year that the NBA Play-in Tournament has been in play and there is some star power in this year’s edition.
Starting on Tuesday, April 12, two games will be played and two games will be played on Wednesday, April 13. Even though these games will have people watching for different reasons, these games will have a certain watchability level. So, here are the 2022 NBA Play-In Tournament games: Watchability Level
4. #9 New Orleans Pelicans vs. #10 San Antonio Spurs
In the Western Conference, there is a matchup between a team who adjusted in the trade deadline vs. a legendary coach with a young star. The New Orleans Pelicans made some noise with their trade deadline move to acquire CJ McCollum who became a major piece of the Pelicans offense alongside Brandon Ingram. The Pelicans would need a boost from Devonte Graham, who was somewhat a disappointment shooting 36.3% from the floor.
While in San Antonio, the main focus is on All-Star Dejounte Murray, but Keldon Johnson had a strong end of the season. Center Jakob Poeti was averaging a near double-double in points and rebounds and will be tasked to compete against Jonas Valanciunas. This matchup will be an elimination game and whoever wins will be in a winner takes all matchup against the loser of the #7/#8 game.
3. #7 Minnesota Timberwolves vs. #8 Los Angeles Clippers
The Minnesota Timberwolves are one of the biggest surprises this season as they have homefield advantage in the play-in. The two players to watch out for are Karl Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards. The Timberwolves finished the second half of the season with a 30-16 record and no one expected them to make it this far with a chance to make the playoffs. Also, watch out for Patrick Beverley, who is quite familiar with the Clippers due to his time playing for LA.
In Hollywood, the Clippers went through a season without Kawhi Leonard and spent 43 games without Paul George but still made a playoff run with a strong supporting cast. The supporting cast includes Robert Covington, Reggie Jackson, Norman Powell and even Luke Kennard. These guys are providing great support from the bench. The matchup is watchable because it’s Patrick Beverly vs. his former team, but the possibility of Minnesota pulling off the upset against a team that made it to the Western Conference Finals in 2021 is intriguing.
2. #9 Atlanta Hawks vs. #10 Charlotte Hornets
Trae Young vs LaMelo Ball. The battle of the NBA’s best young guards. On one side, we have the Hawks, a team that may have been disappointed last season primarily due to their lack of a second option. Clint Capela, Bogdan Bogdanovic and Kevin Huerter are the support for Atlanta which will be needed to ensure a Hawks victory against their division rival.
Charlotte, on the other hand, has been fueled by the breakout seasons of LaMelo Ball and Miles Bridges. Even though Gordon Hayward suffered a knee injury that has prevented him from playing in the second half of the season, the team finished strong to advance into the play-in. Last season, the Hornets advanced to the Play-In but were eliminated by the Indiana Pacers, so the feeling would be to not suffer the same fate. Two divisional rivals who know each other well with two superstar guards will be a great way to spend a Wednesday night.
1. #7 Brooklyn Nets vs. #8 Cleveland Cavaliers
For the best game of the Play-In that features a superstar-filled team vs a team that shocked the NBA world by being in the tournament. The Brooklyn Nets, for the majority of the season, were the odds-on favorite to win the Eastern Conference. Rather it was because of dissention between stars, a vaccine mandate keeping Kyrie Irving from playing at Barclays Center until the very end of the season, or a certain player making excuses on why he is not playing. The Nets should be the favorite in this matchup because even without Ben Simmons, they still have Kevin Durant and Kyrie.
Cleveland, even though the end of the season did not feel like a contender, doubled their win total from last season. The Cavs were led by Darius Garland and rookie sensation Evan Mobley. With guys like Garland, Mobley, and Kevin Love, this should be a matchup to intrigue a lot of people because we can either have the predictable Nets victory or a Cavs upset. Either way, who ever wins this game will get a one-way ticket to a series with the #2 Boston Celtics.
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