NBA Play-In Tournament predictions: Who makes it out of the West?

The NBA Play-in tournament is here and it starts on Wednesday with the No. 7 vs No. 8 matchup between the Lakers and Timberwolves.

The NBA Western Conference Play-In Tournament is set and the Lakers, Timberwolves, Thunder, and Pelicans are battling for a spot in the postseason. The Lakers are the No. 7 seed, the Timberwolves are the No. 8 seed, the Pelicans are the No. 9 seed and the Thunder are the No. 10 seed.

The Thunder go into this year’s play-in after a season where most experts expected them to tank. Oklahoma has been able to defy the tanking allegations and has a chance to get to the playoffs for the first time since they tore things down after the Chris Paul led-Thunder era.

The Pelicans were very hot going and it seemed like they would have been one of the top teams in the West before Zion Williamson got injured and derailed their season. After losing their other two top players, their steam started to run off and they fell off to play-in consideration.

The Timberwolves have had a very interesting year. In the off-season, Minn mortgaged their future for a player (Rudy Gobert) who makes their perimeter defense a lot worse when paired with their All-NBA big man Karl Anthony Towns. The fit between the two big men hasn’t gone well at all and the once bright future for Towns and Anthony Edwards now looks a bit dark.

This is without considering the last game of the season where Rudy Gobert punched role-player Kyle Anderson. Gobert was sent to the locker room afterward. Still, the steam from the fight hasn’t cooled off and a verbal fight was reported in the Timberwolves locker room. Gobert has been suspended and will not play against the Lakers. Additionally, key starter and role player Jaden McDaniels punched a wall and is now most likely out for the Play-In Tournament.

The Lakers have completely revamped their roster at the trade deadline by acquiring D’Angelo Russell, Jared Vanderbilt, and Malik Beasley for Russell Westbrook and picks. Additionally, the Lakers’ two stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis have been injured for major parts of the season. Still, the Lakers are healthy and looking good post-Russ trade.

NBA Play-In Tournament predictions: Who makes it out of the West?

With the turmoil happening in Minnesota,  it really hard to see them beating a revamped Lakers team that looks solid. Minnesota could have been an interesting matchup for the Lakers, but L.A. should be able to get into the actual playoffs easily if Darvin Ham doesn’t mess up the rotation.

The Pelicans will be without Zion Williamson in the Play-Un. Still, they will be able to move past the Thunder due to their solid wing defenders in Hebert Jones and Trey Murphy (who has been starting in place of Zion). Shai Gilgeous-Alexander will need to have a playoff moment if they want to have a chance to win it.

Anthony Edwards against New Orleans’s wing defense is a very interesting possible matchup. Still, picking the Timberwolves to advance to the playoff after the events of the last regular season game is dumb. When the difference of talent is so little, the chemistry on the court matters. The Lakers and Pelicans will advance.

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