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Previewing the Eastern Conference Play-In Games

Our preview of the Eastern Conference play-in tournament.

Stephen A. Bayless

The NBA playoffs are finally here! Well, sort of... Tonight kicks off the first wave of the NBA play-in games. We got the Pacers vs. Hornets and the Celtics vs. Wizards.

I feel like the play-in game received a 50/50 response. Some like it, some hate it. For me, I think it's a little too much to allow the 10 seed to fight for a spot in the playoffs. If you're a 10 seed, you shouldn't be allowed in the playoffs. Plain and simple. I would also love to see these games be win or go home. Imagine having Steph vs. LeBron in a win or go home game? That would be pure electricity. LeBron would also come up with some prime excuses if the Lakers lost in a win or go home game.

Let's get into our previews for tonight's play-in games.


What a weird season it's been for both of these teams.

One of the biggest surprises of the offseason last year was Nate McMillan getting fired days after getting a contract extension. It was a mind-boggling move then and, even more, mind-boggling considering what McMillan has done with the Hawks since he took over as head coach. Meanwhile in Indiana, they're fighting to see another day and their coaches are getting into intense arguments with players during games.

It was also reported that head coach, Nate Bjorkgren's job is on the line.

With all that being said, I expect the Pacers to beat the Hornets to move on to play either the Celtics or Wizards.

It was a fun season for the Hornets. Seeing a Lamelo highlight with the Hornets play-by-play guy going crazy put a smile on my face for sure.

The Pacers are banged up too, but it's expected their top players like Sabonis and Brogdon are going to play. Give me Pacers -3.


This game has some star power for sure.

I was a bit surprised to see the Celtics favored in this game considering their downfall in the second half. Especially with how hot the Wizards have been to close out the season.

On one side, you got the one-man show in Jayson Tatum. With Jaylen Brown going down, Tatum has been carrying this limp Celtics team to the finish line. Kemba Walker should be back, but he's been extremely inconsistent this year due to injuries. They should be pretty healthy for this game so who knows. They certainly have the talent to win one game to move on.

On the other side, you have one of the hottest teams in the NBA. They looked dead at the beginning of the season. It looked like they were going to clean house to win the lottery. Well, after starting the season 17-32, the Wizards closed out the season strong clinching the 8 seed and going 15-5 in their last 20 games. Westbrook has been a triple-double machine to finish the season.

Absurd numbers. Oh, they also have a guy named Bradley Beal who finished second in scoring behind Steph Curry. An incredible turnaround for Washington when everyone was telling them to trade Beal and tank for the rest of the season.

With the direction both these teams are going, I LOVE the Wizards tonight. They're the hotter team right now. Wizards +3 is my pick.

NBAPlayoffsIndiana PacersCharlotte HornetsBoston CelticsWashington WizardsSportsGambling