NBA Play-in Tournament Preview, Odds, & Best Bets

By Chris Hughes   April 11, 2023 

NBA Play-in Tournament Preview, Odds, & Best Bets

An exciting two-month period on the sports calendar is about to begin with the NBA and NHL playoffs starting shortly and taking us to mid-June. In pro basketball, the excitement gets underway quickly with the third year of the NBA play-in tournament that serves as a prelude to the actual playoffs. Before this mini-tournament begins, we have a look at the NBA Play-in Tournament odds and best bets.

What Is the NBA Play-in Tournament Format?

In the NBA Bubble in 2020, the league first experimented with a play-in when the Nos. 8 and 9-seeded teams squared off to see who would face the No. 1 seed in the playoffs that year. Starting in 2021, the following format was put into place:

  • No. 8 at No. 7 in each conference play on Tuesday. Winner is the 7-seed.
  • No. 10 at No. 9 in each conference play on Wednesday. Loser is eliminated.
  • The winner of the 9 vs. 10 game plays at the loser of the 7 vs. 8 game on Friday. Winner is the 8-seed; loser is eliminated.
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NBA Play-in Tournament Odds: Best Bets to Make Playoffs

At DraftKings, you can bet on each of the eight teams participating in the NBA Play-in Tournament to make or miss the playoffs.

Los Angeles Lakers-2500+1100
Miami Heat-750+500
Minnesota Timberwolves-330+255
Atlanta Hawks-310+240
Toronto Raptors+235-300
New Orleans Pelicans+320-425
Chicago Bulls+600-900
Oklahoma City Thunder+600-900

There is only two years’ worth of history to look at, but the 7-seed is 4-0 in winning their first game and thus qualifying for the playoffs. The 9-seed is also 4-0 in defeating the 10-seed.

Where it gets interesting is that the 9-seed is 3-1 at the 8-seed in the final game of the mini tournament. A bet on history repeating itself would be taking Toronto and New Orleans at plus odds. Even if you hit one of them, you would come ahead a winner.

NBA Play-In Tournament Odds: Best Bets for Tuesday

The 7 vs. 8 matchups take place on Tuesday night. They are, courtesy of FanDuel:

Atlanta Hawks+5 (-110)+166O 226.5
Miami Heat-5 (-110)-198U 226.5
Minnesota Timberwolves+7 (-112)+225O 228.5
Los Angeles Lakers-7 (-108)-275U 226.5

For the Eastern Conference matchup, the Miami Heat were a game away from the NBA Finals last year but struggled on offense this year on their way to a seventh-place finish in the Eastern Conference.

The Atlanta Hawks are led by Trae Young, who carried the team to an Eastern Conference Finals appearance two years ago. The team, however, has struggled since. Young’s 33% from 3-point range is the lowest since his rookie season. Jimmy Butler, meanwhile, was strong for Miami in last year’s playoffs.

In an interesting twist, this is the lowest that a division winner has finished in the NBA standings. If the Heat lose both games of the Play-in Tournament, they will become the first division winner in NBA history to miss the playoffs.

The Heat, however, have won three of the four matchups with the Hawks this year. We like that to continue: Prediction, Miami -5

Will LeBron and the Lakers Advance to the Playoffs?

LeBron James challenged himself and the rest of the Los Angeles Lakers at the All-Star break to make a push to go from 12th in the standings into playoff contention. Despite losing to the crosstown Los Angeles Clippers last week that kept them from challenging for a spot in the top-six, the Lakers finished with the NBA’s best record after the break.

The Minnesota Timberwolves, meanwhile, won their final three games but are in a bit of disarray after Rudy Gobert was sent home for throwing a punch at teammate Kyle Anderson. Minnesota was 2-1 against LA and won the only matchup at Arena (110-102 on March 3), but the Lakers won the most-recent meeting, 123-111.

The Lakers come in having won four of their last five games and winning three of those by double digits. We like this trend to continue, setting LA up with a first-round playoff matchup against 2-seed Memphis. Prediction: LA Lakers -7

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