The introduction of the play-in tournament as a permanent fixture to the NBA season was met with some skepticism in its infancy, namely from one of the league’s biggest stars, LeBron James.
However, it proved to be a roaring success, drawing some huge audiences across the four games, in particular when James’ Los Angeles Lakers faced the Golden State Warriors. In the end, the Lakers and Memphis Grizzlies emerged from the Western Conference round, while the Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards took home the seventh and eighth seed respectively in the Eastern Conference.
The play-in tournament was first introduced during the 2020 NBA Playoffs as the Portland Trail Blazers and Memphis Grizzlies faced each other to determine who would claim the eighth seed after a shortened regular season. Portland’s 126-122 victory set the tone for what now looks likely to be an ever-present in the schedule. There are plenty of betting sites and offshore sportsbooks offering odds on the play-in tournament, which we have broken down below.
How Does the NBA Play-In Tournament Work?
The NBA Play-In Tournament is comprised of the four teams from each conference that finish in the 7-10 seeds. In the first round of matches, the no.7 seed will host the no.8 seed, with the winner then progressing as the no.7 seed to play their conference’s no.2 seed.
In the other game, the no.9 seed will host the no.10 seed, with the winner progressing to face the loser of the 7/8 matchup, while the defeated team is eliminated altogether. The loser of the 7/8 game will then have home-court advantage against the winner of the 9/10 game to decide who will progress as the no.8 seed and face the no.1 seed from their conference in the first round of the Playoffs.
Essentially, this means the 7/8 seeds only need to win one of two matches — one of which is guaranteed to be on their home floor — to confirm their Playoff spot. As for the 9/10 seeds, they will need to win back-to-back games to squeeze into the Playoffs as the no.8 seed, including a second game on the road, just as the Grizzlies pulled off against the Warriors last season.
Giving teams more incentive to compete and push to win games can only be a positive for the NBA. For example, teams such as the Sacramento Kings, New Orleans Pelicans and Charlotte Hornets all made win-now moves at the trade deadline in order to push for a place in the play-in tournament in years which they otherwise may have tanked to give themselves a stronger chance for a higher lottery pick in the 2022 NBA Draft.
2022 NBA Play-In Tournament Schedule
The conclusion of the NBA regular season on Sunday night means we now know the schedule of the 2022 play-in tournament and it has thrown up some intriguing matchups. Starting with the Eastern Conference, the Brooklyn Nets will host the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 7/8 game.
The Nets, who have had a season filled with turmoil, reeled off four consecutive wins at the end of the regular season to guarantee themselves home-court advantage for the duration of the play-in tournament. Meanwhile, the Cavaliers plummeted to 8th following a string of injuries to key players and are sweating on the health of All-Star center Jarrett Allen, who will be itching to face the team that traded him to the Cavs last year. The winner will go on to face the Boston Celtics in the first round.
In the 9/10 game, the Atlanta Hawks host the Charlotte Hornets, who each finished the season with an identical 43-39 record. The Hawks made it to the Eastern Conference Finals but have failed to build on that achievement during the regular season, while the Hornets are in the play-in tournament for the second straight season. Both will be leaning on their All-Star point guards in Trae Young and LaMelo Ball to lead them through to the chance to play for the eighth seed, where the winner will take on the Miami Heat.
In the Western Conference, the much-improved Minnesota Timberwolves will face the injury-plagued Los Angeles Clippers. The Timberwolves would appear to be the favorite, however, the return of Paul George will make that a much tougher task than what it would’ve been without the 7x All-Star. There are also some whispers circulating around the condition of 2x NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, who has missed the entirety of the regular season with injury.
Beneath them is the meeting of the New Orleans Pelicans and San Antonio Spurs. Both teams surged in the second half of the season to surpass the dysfunctional Los Angeles Lakers in the standings. The Pelicans have more firepower on paper with Brandon Ingram, CJ McCollum and Jonas Valanciunas in their roster, but the Spurs will be leaning on the experience of coach Greg Popovich and MIP candidate Dejounte Murray.
2022 NBA Play-In Tournament Odds
The play-in tournament will naturally draw plenty of interest from the NBA betting community. At the time of writing, BetUS have provided the following point odds for each of the first round play-in games. Each point spread and total points line comes with -110 odds.
- Cleveland Cavaliers (+8) @ Brooklyn Nets (-8)
- Los Angeles Clippers (+2.5) @ Minnesota Timberwolves (-2.5)
- Charlotte Hornets (+4.5) @ Atlanta Hawks (-4.5)
- San Antonio Spurs (+5) @ New Orleans Pelicans (-5)
- Cleveland Cavaliers (+320) @ Brooklyn Nets (-380)
- Los Angeles Clippers (+120) @ Minnesota Timberwolves (-140)
- Charlotte Hornets (+160) @ Atlanta Hawks (-180)
- San Antonio Spurs (+175) @ New Orleans Pelicans (-210)
- Cleveland Cavaliers @ Brooklyn Nets – 229 Over/Under
- Los Angeles Clippers @ Minnesota Timberwolves – 231 Over/Under
- Charlotte Hornets @ Atlanta Hawks – 238.5 Over/Under
- San Antonio Spurs @ New Orleans Pelicans – 229 Over/Under