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NBA play-in tournament preview, NBA playoff scenarios

The NBA play-in tournament begins Tuesday night as eight teams will be playing for a chance to make the NBA playoffs over the next several days.

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — The 2022 NBA postseason is here. But, for the second-straight year, only the top six seeds for each conference are set as the No. 7 and No. 8 seeds in each conference are up for grabs.

This will come in the form of a play-in tournament, adopted by the NBA last season for the first time. 

Eight teams total, four from each conference, can play their way into the playoffs.

  • Western Conference: Minnesota Timberwolves (7), Los Angeles Clippers (8), New Orleans Pelicans (9), San Antonio Spurs (10)
  • Eastern Conference: Brooklyn Nets (7), Cleveland Cavaliers (8), Atlanta Hawks (9), Charlotte Hornets (10)

Locked On has a daily podcast covering EVERY NBA team! Find yours today

How the NBA play-in tournament works

On Tuesday, the NBA's play-in tournament begins as the Cleveland Cavaliers play the Brooklyn Nets and the Los Angeles Clippers play the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The winner of Cavs-Nets becomes the 7-seed in the playoffs and will face the the Boston Celtics in a playoff series. 

The loser of Cavs-Nets will play the winner of Hawks-Hornets, who play on Wednesday. The winner of that third game becomes the No. 8 seed in the East and will face the Miami Heat in the playoffs.

On the Western Conference side, the winner of Clippers-Wolves becomes the No. 7 seed in the West and will face the 2-seed Memphis Grizzlies. The loser of Clippers-Wolves will play the winner of the Pelicans-Spurs game slated for Wednesday. Then the winner of that third game moves on to take on the 1-seed Phoenix Suns in a playoff series. 

NBA play-in tournament schedule

Tuesday, April 12

  • East: No. 8 Cleveland Cavaliers at No. 7 Brooklyn Nets, 7 p.m. ET (TNT)
  • West: No. 8 Los Angeles Clippers at No. 7 Minnesota Timberwolves, 9:30 p.m. ET (TNT)

Wednesday, April 13

  • East: No. 10 Charlotte Hornets at No. 9 Atlanta Hawks, 7 ET p.m. (ESPN)
  • West: No. 10 San Antonio Spurs at No. 9 New Orleans Pelicans, 9:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)

Friday, April 15

  • East: Winner of Charlotte/Atlanta vs. loser of Cleveland/Brooklyn, TBD (ESPN)
  • West: Winner of San Antonio/New Orleans vs. loser of Los Angeles/Minnesota, TBD (TNT)

NBA teams in the playoffs

Western Conference

  • No. 1 Phoenix Suns vs. No. 8 TBD (series begins Sun. April 17)
  • No. 2 Memphis Grizzlies vs. No. 7 TBD (series begins Sat. April 16)
  • No. 3 Golden State Warriors vs. No. 6 Denver Nuggets (series begins Sat. April 16)
  • No. 4 Dallas Mavericks vs. No. 5 Utah Jazz (series begins Sat. April 16)

Eastern Conference

  • No. 1 Miami Heat vs. No. 8 TBD (series begins Sun. April 17)
  • No. 2 Boston Celtics vs. No. 7 TBD (series begins Sun. April 17)
  • No. 3 Milwaukee Bucks vs. No. 6 Chicago Bulls (series begins Sun. April 17)
  • No. 4 Philadelphia 76ers vs. No. 5 Toronto Raptors (series begins Sat. April 16)

Previewing Tuesday's NBA play-in tournament games 

On the Locked On NBA podcast, hosts Matt Moore and David Ramil previewed Tuesday night's lineup of games in the NBA play-in tournament between the Cavs and Nets and Clippers and Wolves.

Locked On has a daily podcast covering EVERY NBA team! Find yours today

Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Brooklyn Nets

The Nets are favored by eight points in Tuesday night's game against the Cavaliers. The Nets are at home, and have star power in Durant and Kyrie Irving. While the Cavaliers surpassed expectations this season, they have dealt with significant injuries for much of 2022 and will likely be without key center Jarrett Allen on Tuesday.

David Ramil: “My feeling is that the Cavs surpassed expectations for this season and then there’s been this constant punch to the gut with injuries this season, it’s just very tough for this roster to keep it together. They’ve had superb play from Garland and Kevin Love. While they’d like to continue to build on that success they’ve already surpassed, it’s hard to do when you’ve got a team like Brooklyn, who is absolute desperate for something to hang their hat on.”

Matt Moore: “Darius Garland is going to have to have a great game for Cleveland to have any shot in this game. He’s gotten points and he was great on Friday night against Brooklyn. But it didn’t matter. The Cavs just don’t have enough weapons. I don’t think the Nets are even that great of a team. If the Cavs had Jarrett Allen I think it changes things…but without Allen, there’s just enough breakdowns on the perimeter. You throw in the fact that Durant can go for 40 easily. We’re probably getting Nets-Celtics, which will be a fascinating series.”

Los Angeles Clippers vs. Minnesota Timberwolves

After a 46-38 season, the Minnesota Timberwolves are looking to make the playoffs for the first time since 2018 and for just the second time since 2005. But, they won't have an easy task getting the No. 7 seed as they face the experienced Los Angeles Clippers. 

Matt Moore: “My big question for this is the Wolves defensive scheme tries to apply pressure on the ball handler. They want to skirmish and they want to force turnovers. The Clippers are 10th best in limiting turnovers. On paper this is a pretty poor matchup for the Wolves, and that shows in the fact that the Clippers handedly won the season series.”

David Ramil: “I just feel like you’re looking at this Clippers roster and i like their chance. I think Reggie Jackson is going to have a big game and he’s going to be able to swing this game in the Clippers favor…A monster game from Karl-Anthony Towns is the only thing that can save Minnesota’s chances. L.A. is too experienced and too well coached.”

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