The NBA Play-in tournament is here and it starts on Tuesday with the No. 7 vs No. 8 matchup between the Miami Heat and Atlanta Hawks.
The NBA Play-In Tournament is here and teams in the East have the chance to save face by making the playoffs. While no team besides the Heat has a real chance to advance in the playoffs, front offices can save face for their seasons if they are able to make the actual postseason. The Heat have a small chance to advance to get past the second round but they will need a heroic job by Jimmy Butler.
In the East half of the NBA Play-In Tournament, the Miami is the No. 7 seed, Atlanta is the No. 8 seed, Toronto is the No. 9 seed and Chicago is the No. 10 seed.
The Miami Heat go into this play-in with a roster that has been carried by Jimmy Butler all season. The Heat have struggled to show the type of talent that got them to the Eastern Conference Finals last season.
Tyler Herro and Bam Adebayo certainly have put up top stats this season but it seems like Butler has been carrying them all year. His frustrations got so bad that he sang Nickelback in the locker room after a loss to the Magic. The Heat may be a top favorite to get out of the play-in but the lack of talent on the roster prohibits them from really being any threat in the East.
The Hawks go into the NBA Play-In Tournament after the worst possible season they could have had. After trading for Dejounte Murray this offseason, it seemed like the Hawks had an All-Star duo for the future. While Murray has been solid, Trae Young’s stock has really dipped. His shooting has really fallen off, especially his shooting from beyond the arc.
The Hawks fired their coach Nate Mcmillan after he had difficulties with Young during practice. While Quin Synder has taken over the ship, things aren’t stable in Atlanta. Trae Young may be on his way out of Atlanta as the owners have given management the ok to trade anyone according to Kevin O’Connor . In his report, he specifically mentioned Trae Young as someone who could be traded.
The Raptors go into the play-in after nearly blowing it up at the trade deadline. Toronto’s 2019 championship core (minus Kawhi obviously) didn’t do well this season and all of them seemed available at the deadline due to this and their contracts coming off the book soon. At the deadline, they ended up trading FOR Jakob Poetl and plan to re-sign him this offseason.
Nick Nurse has regressed as an NBA coach this season and pending something crazy by Toronto is likely on his way out of Toronto. The Raptors haven’t really improved since adding Poetl and are going to be heading toward an interesting offseason no matter how this ends (short of getting to the second round which is highly unlikely).
The Bulls have a very bleak outlook ahead of themselves in the off-season. Lonzo Ball is still under contract for the next two years and is still injured. Zach LaVine is signed to a contract extension till 2026-27 when he will be 33 years old. For a player with a history of knee injuries, that is a very risky commitment.
The Bulls have a lot of aging players on bad contracts and do not have a lot of draft picks to unload those contracts (do not even own all of their picks). The outlook for the Bulls is bad but they still have a chance to make the playoff which if made would be a stat for Artūras Karnišovas to push to protect his performance against critics.
NBA Play-In Tournament predictions: Who makes it out of the East?
The Heat will be able to beat a Hawks team that is in turmoil. Yes, Miami does have locker room issues of its own but it is not as bad an outlook as Atlanta. Jimmy Butler will go off in this game and take them to a rematch series with the Celtics.
The Raptors will be able to use their core to beat the Bulls and then beat the Hawks. While the Raptors have an unclear direction for their roster, the Hawks’ roster is less talented and is in a worse spot. The Heat and Raptors will advance.
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