The NBA playoffs are finally here. This week’s play-in tournament will determine the seventh and eighth seeds in each conference. We have some great matchups to look forward to this week. Let’s take a deeper look at these Eastern Conference Play-In Predictions.
Eastern Conference Play-In Predictions
Charlotte Hornets vs. Indiana Pacers
The first game of the night features the Hornets coming into Indiana for the nine vs. ten matchup. This game is a tough one to call at first glance. The Pacers have a better record by one game and the two teams shared an identical 20-22 record against Eastern opponents this year. The Hornets have struggled on the road, but somehow, the Pacers have been worse at home. A 13-23 record at Bankers Life Fieldhouse means the Hornets shouldn’t be scared of the home-court advantage in this matchup. Charlotte won the season series 2-1, taking the last two games between the teams. The Hornets have struggled recently, losing five games in a row and seven of their last ten. The Pacers have gone 5-5 in their last ten games, but are dealing with several injuries that could impact their ability to advance in this one.
The Hornets backcourt will lead their attack. With Gordon Hayward out, the team has been led by Terry Rozier. LaMelo Ball has been inconsistent since his return from a wrist injury, but he is still averaging 15.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 6.2 assists in his last ten games. The Pacers will of course be led by their All-Star, Domantas Sabonis in the frontcourt. Health will be the biggest factor for Indiana as they are already missing Myles Turner and Jeremy Lamb. If Malcolm Brogdon and Caris LeVert are unable to play, the Pacers will have a really tough time contending in this one. If they do make it onto the court, the veteran squad for the Pacers should be enough for them to pull off this victory.
Pacers beat the Hornets in a close one.
Washington Wizards vs. Boston Celtics
The late game of the evening is even closer to call, according to the oddsmakers. A bit more is at stake here, as the winner of the seven vs. eight seed is locked into the playoffs without having to play another game. Boston has a much better record than the Wizards and are six games above .500 at home. Washington has struggled on the road, but has been solid of late, winning six of their last ten games to close out the season. Boston won the season series 2-1, but have been reeling since the loss of Jaylen Brown and only managed to win four of their last ten games. Of the four teams on this side of the tournament, these two have the most star power. I won’t be surprised if these are the two teams that make it out of the tournament and into the first round.
The Celtics have the better overall team, but the Wizards dynamic duo of Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook make them a threat to win any one-game matchup they face. A big game should be expected from Jayson Tatum as long as his ankle injury isn’t too bad. This could be an instant classic with Tatum and Beal trading baskets all night. Westbrook will certainly be an x-factor. His input could push the Wizards over the top, or it could cost them if he has an off night. The Celtics’ biggest concern coming into this one will also be health. They currently have three key players listed as day-to-day. As long as Tatum, Kemba Walker, and Marcus Smart are on the floor, I have to give a slight advantage to Boston in this one.
Boston barely beats the Wizards.
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