The Play-in Tournament Is a Recent Addition to the NBA Calendar — Here's How It Works
The 2022-23 NBA regular season has ended, but before the playoffs begin, there's another competition — the play-in tournament. How does it work?
The 2022-23 NBA regular season has come to an end, so you know what that means — it's time for the playoffs! But first, we must turn our attention to the play-in tournament.
The NBA play-in tournament was first approved for the 2019-20 season and has since become a permanent way to fill the gap between the end of the regular season and start of the playoffs. The postseason tournament is a certified hit, but it can still be confusing for fans to follow.
On that note, stick around as we break down how the NBA play-in tournament works.
How does the NBA play-in tournament work?
For starters, the NBA play-in tournament sees eight teams compete each year. These eight organizations are seeded No. 7-10 based on the Eastern and Western Conference regular season standings. Each conference has four teams in the tournament, and within each conference, the No. 7 seed hosts the No. 8 seed, and the No. 9 hosts the No. 10.
When it comes to the No. 7-8 game, the winner becomes the conference's No. 7 seed and will face the No. 2 seed in the first round of the playoffs. The loser of the No. 7-8 game gets a second chance later in the play-in bracket. As for the No. 9-10 game, the loser is eliminated from playoff contention, while the winner moves on to face the loser of the No. 7-8 game for the No. 8 seed in their respective conference.
To make things less complicated, here's how the NBA play-in tournament will go down:
- No. 7 hosts No. 8 — winner becomes its conference's No. 7 seed in the playoffs.
- No. 9 hosts No. 10 — loser is eliminated from playoff contention.
- No. 7/8 loser hosts No. 9/10 winner — winner becomes its conference's No. 8 seed, and the loser is eliminated.
What is the structure of the 2022-23 NBA play-in tournament?
The 2022-23 NBA play-in tournament bracket is as follows:
- Eastern Conference
- No. 7 Heat vs. No. 8 Hawks — Tuesday, April 11 at 7:30 p.m. EST on TNT
- No. 9 Raptors vs. No. 10 Bulls — Wednesday, April 12 at 7 p.m. EST
- Western Conference
- No. 7 Lakers vs. No. 8 Timberwolves — Tuesday, April 11 at 10 p.m. EST
- No. 9 Pelicans vs. No. 10 Thunder — Wednesday, April 12 at 9:30 p.m. EST
The final two games will take place on Friday, April 14.
Ahead of the Lakers-Timberwolves play-in matchup, the Minnesota organization announced it suspended center Rudy Gobert for one game after punching teammate Kyle Anderson during a timeout in the team's final game of the season on Sunday, April 9. He was then sent home after the incident in the second quarter.
Rudy will serve the suspension during the Timberwolves' play-in game against the Lakers. He's expected to return to the starting lineup if the Timberwolves lose to the Lakers and play another play-in game or advance into the Western Conference playoffs as the No. 7 seed.