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Previewing each matchup in the NBA play-in tournament

We take a look at the bracket for the 2021 NBA play-in tournament and break down each of the games.

Caleb Martin of the Charlotte Hornets defends Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics at TD Garden on April 28, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The 2021 NBA playoffs won’t begin until after the play-in tournament, which is a new additional after being a relative success in the Orlando Bubble in 2020. So there will be four teams in each conference competing for the final two spots into the 2021 NBA Playoffs. We’ve got the field all set for the East and West play-in tournaments. Here we’ll preview each matchup and where the team is at heading into the one-game playoff.

Eastern Conference

No. 7 seed Boston Celtics vs. No. 8 seed Washington Wizards

The Celtics took 2 out of 3 games from the Wizards during the regular season, but that was when Jaylen Brown was healthy. That isn’t to say the Celtics don’t have a chance but this is a much tougher matchup than having to face a younger Hornets squad. The Wizards have star power in Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook that is dangerous in the one-game format. We could see the Wizards steal the 7-seed and force Boston to fight for the 8-seed.

No. 9 seed Indiana Pacers vs. No. 10 seed Charlotte Hornets

Indiana lost 2 of 3 games against the Hornets during the regular season. The Pacers also enter this contest with a banged up lineup. On paper, Indy is much more talented than Charlotte. The issue is Malcolm Brogdon, Domantas Sabonis, Aaron Holiday, Myles Turner and Caris LeVert are all dealing with something heading into the end of the season. The Hornets have LaMelo Ball back and will be dangerous in one game.

Western Conference

No. 7 seed Los Angeles Lakers vs. No. 8 seed Golden State Warriors

We’ve got a Clash of the Titans in the play-in and now this tourney will be here forever. LeBron James and the defending champs face Stephen Curry and the Dubs. On paper, this should be a blowout in favor of L.A. The Dubs have nobody down low who can deal with Anthony Davis and they can even sick LeBron on Curry if need be. Still, Curry dropped 44 points in the season finale to get to this point. He isn’t going down without a fight.

No. 9 seed Memphis Grizzlies vs. No. 10 seed San Antonio Spurs

The Grizz took 2 of 3 from the Spurs during the regular season, but two wins were back-to-back at the end of January. Memphis nearly finished the season on a six-game winning streak but couldn’t stop Steph Curry in the season finale. So the Grizz are stuck playing the Spurs to try and get a shot at thee 8-seed. San Antonio is limping into the playoffs and won’t have Derrick White. The Grizzlies have the talent so you’d think this will be an easy W. Still, you never know with Pop.