The NBA’s Play-In Tournament officially kicks off on Tuesday night, and here’s a full guide to understanding how it works.
When is the Play-In Tournament?
The Play-In Tournament will begin Tuesday, May 18 and conclude Friday, May 21. The tournament will air exclusively on ESPN and TNT.
How can I stream the NBA postseason Play-In tournament?
No cable, no problem.
Fans can catch all the Play-In action through various streaming services, including WatchESPN, WatchTNT, Sling TV, Hulu Live TV and fuboTV, which offers a free 7-day trial. ESPN and TNT are the sole broadcasters of the Play-In, with streaming available on both desktop and mobile devices by downloading the respective apps. Additionally, ESPN Radio will nationally broadcast every game from the State Farm NBA Play-In Tournament.
How will the Play-In Tournament work?
The play-in idea was tested in the NBA bubble last season and a version of it made it to this season. Each game will be played at home arenas, with the highest-seeded teams hosting the matchups.
Ahead of the postseason on May 22, the 7th-through-10th seeds in each conference will face-off for a chance at playoff berth. Teams with the seventh and eighth seed in each conference will have two opportunities to win one game and advance to the playoffs. Teams occupying the ninth and 10th seeds will need to win two consecutive matchups to earn a spot in the postseason. The losing teams will enter the NBA Draft Lottery.
What is the Play-In tournament schedule?
The format includes six games involving eight teams in the Eastern and Western Conferences. The NBA will use winning percentage to determine the standings.
Tuesday, May 18
Game 1 (East 9/10): Indiana Pacers vs. Charlotte Hornets, 6:30 ET, TNT
Game 2 (East 7/8): Boston Celtics vs. Washington Wizards, 9 ET, TNT (the winner will determine the No. 7 seed)
Wednesday, May 19
Game 3: (West 9/10): Memphis Grizzlies vs. San Antonio Spurs, 7:30 ET, ESPN
Game 4: (West 7/8): Los Angeles Lakers vs. Golden State Warriors, 10 ET, ESPN (the winner will determine the No. 7 seed)
Thursday, May 20
East: Winner of Game 2 vs, Loser of Game 3, 8 ET, TNT
Friday, May 21
West: Winner of Game 3 vs. Loser of Game 4, TBD ESPN
The anticipated Lakers-Warriors battle in the West has fans excited, as LeBron James will duke it out with Steph Curry in a high-stakes matchup. During the regular season, the Lakers won two of their three regular season meetings with Golden State.
The Hornets are seeking their first playoff appearance since the 2015-16 season, while the Grizzlies are in a similar position, hoping to clinch a playoff spot for the first time since the 2014-15 season.
The NBA postseason begins on May 22.