The Eastern Conference matchups are set: No. 7 Boston will play host to No. 8 Washington, y no. 9 Indiana will play host to No. 10 Charlotte in the NBA’s first elimination game this season. Both of those games are Tuesday.
The Boston-Washington winner goes straight to the playoffs as the East’s No. 7 semilla; the loser of that game will play host to the Indiana-Charlotte winner on Thursday to determine the East’s No. 8 seed and who will face top-seeded Philadelphia in Round 1.
The Western Conference play-in games will be set depending on results later Sunday. Golden State, Memphis and San Antonio will all be in the play-in round there; either the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers or the Portland Trail Blazers will be the No. 7 seed for those games, with the West play-in contests starting Wednesday.
Getting to the No. 8 spot is a massive comeback story for the Wizards, who started the season 0-5 y 3-12, were shut down for two weeks in January for coronavirus-related issues, had to play 38 games in the season’s final 67 days to make up for all that lost time and were 17-32 early last month.
They’re 17-6 desde, rallying from 16 points down to beat Charlotte on Sunday and with Russell Westbrook — the league’s all-time triple-double king — getting his 38th one of the season.
mientras tanto, New York — which was sent home after the regular season in each of the last seven years — not only is back in the playoffs but will open them at home. New York’s win over Boston locked the Knicks into the East’s No. 4 seed and a first-round matchup against No. 5 Atlanta.
That means reigning East champion Miami will open as the No. 6 semilla. The Heat will open the playoffs at either Brooklyn or Milwaukee.