The 2021 NBA Postseason is finally here as the NBA Play-In Tournament Presented by State Farm tip-offs later tonight. The Play-In Tournament is a new concept for the 74-year-old league that was launched in 2020 to make the regular season more competitive and incentivizes teams to no tank at season’s end. The tournament gives the 9 and 10 seeds in each conference a chance to play their way into the playoffs by securing the 8th seed.
The play-in tournament bracket is structured in a way to maximize the NBA’s revenue and reward teams that play harder at the end of the season. In both conferences, the 7th and 8th seeds will go head-to-head and the winner will secure the seventh seed. The 9th and 10th seeds will also play each other and the loser of that game will be eliminated from the tournament. The winner of the 9-10 game and the loser of the 7-8 game will play each other and the winner will secure the 8th seed.
This year’s tournament has a big-time matchup in the Western Conference when the LeBron-led 7th-seed Lakers take on Stephen Curry’s 8th-seed Golden State Warriors. James and Curry are arguably two of the greatest NBA players of all time and the NBA has struck gold with this matchup in the play-in game. The Lakers are the defending NBA champs and they’ll be a problem in the Western Conference if they end up securing the 8th or 7th seed. Steph Curry secured the Scoring Title for the 2021 NBA season and as a 3x NBA champion, he will be looking to return to the top of the mountain.
In the Eastern Conference, the projected Rookie of the Year LaMelo Ball will be looking to lead the 10th-seed Charlotte Hornets to the 8th-seed if they can get past the 9th-seed Indiana Pacers. The Hornets have won the season series against Indiana 2-1; however, Buzz City is currently on a 5-game losing streak. The winner of this game has a large task ahead of them as they will have to win another game to secure a playoff spot.
The other 2 scheduled games in the play-in tournament include a contest between the injury-riddled 7th-seed Boston Celtics and the 8th-seed Washington Wizards in the Eastern Conference and the 9th-seed Memphis Grizzlies versus the 10th-seed San Antonio Spurs. The interesting storyline in the Eastern Conference surrounds the NBA’s all-time leader in triple-doubles Russell Westbrook with a win against Boston, he’ll secure a series against his old Oklahoma City (and Houston!) teammates, Kevin Durant and James Harden. In the lower-seed game in the Western Conference, Ja Morant and the 9th-seed Grizzlies will have to go through future Hall of Fame coach Greg Popovich and the 10th-seed Spurs.
With the 2021 NBA Play-In Tournament Presented by State Farm tipping-off tonight, there will be fans at all of the games as things are slowly returning to normal; however, cord cutters can find out how to watch every moment of every game on the hardwood below.
The Games – Start Times and Channel
Tuesday, May 18
|#10 Charlotte Hornets at #9 Indiana Pacers||6:30 p.m. ET||TNT|
|#8 Washington Wizards at #7 Boston Celtics||9:00 p.m. ET||TNT|
Wednesday, May 19
|#10 San Antonio Spurs at #9 Memphis Grizzlies||7:30 p.m. ET||ESPN|
|#8 Golden State Warriors at #7 Los Angeles Lakers||10:00 p.m. ET||ESPN|
Thursday, May 20
|Eastern Conference 9/10 winner vs. 7/8 loser ||8:00 p.m. ET||TNT|
Friday, May 21
|Western Conference 9/10 winner vs. 7/8 loser||TBD||ESPN|
Where to watch the 2021 NBA Play-In Tournament
Subscribers to live TV streaming services can check out our chart below to see if your service will be streaming today’s games.