NBA Playoffs 2021: Play-In Tournament rules, dates

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NBC Sports Bay Area Staff
·4 min read
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NBA Playoffs 2021: Play-In Tournament rules, dates originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

With their recent run, the Golden State Warriors still have some more work to do if they look to earn a spot in the NBA Play-In Tournament. Currently ranked ninth in the Western Conference, the Dubs are looking to hold on to their place as one of the top 10 seeds.

While they are currently neck and neck with the San Antonio Spurs, they are only one game behind the Memphis Grizzlies for eighth place and 3.5 games behind the Dallas Mavericks for the seventh spot.  

The Warriors have climbed up the ranks -- even though it doesn't appear so -- despite missing key rotational pieces throughout the season. Steph Curry has been on a tear and looks to lead the Warriors to a possible playoff spot. 

For those who want to see the Dubs remain in the top 10 and start preparing for the Play-In Tournament, here's everything you need to know:

What is the Play-In Tournament?

The NBA Play-In Tournament is a new format the league introduced to determine the eight playoff teams from each conference.

The league had already tested a version of the play-in format last summer when teams like the Warriors took part in the 2020 NBA restart in Orlando.

At the time, the Portland Trail Blazers played the Memphis Grizzlies to earn a berth in the Western Conference playoffs. There was no play-in game for the Eastern Conference playoffs.

When would the Warriors play in the Play-In Tournament?

The Play-In Tournament will begin May 18, two days after the Warriors' final regular season game against the Memphis Grizzlies on May 16.

The last game of the tournament will be May 21, with the first round of the NBA playoffs tipping off May 22.

How does the Play-In Tournament's structure impact the Warriors?

The Play-In Tournament will have six games involving eight teams, split up between the two conferences.

The Warriors would need to finish Nos. 1-6 in the Western Conference standings to qualify for the playoffs. If they don't finish in the top six, they will need to fall between the seventh and 10th spots to be eligible to take part in the Play-In Tournament. 

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The NBA will use winning percentage to determine the standings.

Game 1: The highest-winning percentage team at No. 7 in each conference will host the highest-winning percentage team at No. 8 to compete for the seventh seed in the playoffs. The losing team will have a second chance to make the playoffs in Game 3. 

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Game 2: The team with the highest winning percentage at No. 9 in each conference will host the team with the highest winning percentage at No. 10. The winner will play for a playoff berth in Game 3, while the losing team will enter the NBA draft lottery.

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Game 3: The losing team of No. 7 vs. No. 8 (Game 1) will play the winning team of No. 9 vs. No. 10 (Game 2) for the eighth seed in the playoffs. The losing team will enter the NBA draft lottery.

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Could the Bay Area host a Play-In Tournament game?

With the COVID-19 vaccines continuing to roll out, the NBA has no plans to bring back the bubble. The Play-In Tournament will be held at home arenas, with the highest-winning percentage teams hosting each game.

If the Warriors can move up a bit, there's a possibility Chase Center could host a single-elimination playoff game this spring.

Are the Warriors projected to be in the Play-In Tournament?

If the season ended today, April 23, these would be the teams to compete in the 2021 NBA Play-In Tournament:

Eastern Conference

No. 8 Charlotte Hornets at No. 7 Miami Heat

No. 10 Washington Wizards at No. 9 Indiana Pacers

Western Conference

No. 8 Memphis Grizzlies at No. 7 Dallas Mavericks

No. 10 Golden State Warriors at No. 9 San Antonio Spurs