NBA Play-In Team Rundown
Starting on 12th April, Sport 24 will bring passengers live action from the NBA Play-In Tournament, with decisive games that will decide each team’s season. The 7th – 10th placed teams from each conference will battle it out for the final two playoff spots in the post-season.
We take a look at the teams involved and how they came to qualify for the Play-In Tournament, rating their season performances and chances to progress further in the 2021-22 post-season...
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NBA Eastern Conference NBA Play-In Teams
Sport 24 Season Grade: C (Room for Improvement)
Brooklyn seemed to be suffering a hangover from last year’s post-season disappointment after a positive regular season in 2021. Losing Kyrie Irving to vaccination mandate rules seemed to have an effect as the team lost 11 straight games and 17 out of 20 from mid-January. An uptick in results has seen them clinch a Play-In spot but can they carry this through to the Play-Offs?
Sport 24 Season Grade: B+ (Surpassing Expectations)
After a poor season last year, many Cavs fans will see making the Play-In tournament as an improvement, but indifferent form has cost Cleveland this season, and they will feel disappointed not to have clinched a playoff spot outright. Evan Mobley has impressed in his Rookie year and will look to continue this in the post-season.
Sport 24 Season Grade: C- (Going Backwards)
Atlanta have been unable to build on last year’s improvement which saw them reach the conference final having failed to make the Play-Offs in the previous 3 years. A late-season upturn in form has seen them make the Play-In tournament, but most Hawks fans won’t hold out much hope for an extended post-season run.
Sport 24 Season Grade: C (Treading Water)
Charlotte’s season seems to have mirrored last year as they clinch the final Play-In spot once again. Mid-season hope was scuppered by a February schedule that saw them win 2 in 12 and most are expecting their season to go no further. However, Hornets fans will forward to seeing more from the improving Lamelo Ball next year and will hope that they can make the Play-Offs via the conventional route.
Sport 24 Season Grade: B+ (High Hopes)
Similar to the Cavaliers, Minnesota will be disappointed not to reach the Play-Offs automatically after a greatly improved season from last year. A late-season run almost led to them securing the final Play-Off spot but were staved off by the Denver Nuggets. Timberwolves’ fans will go into the Play-In tournament in high spirits and will certainly hope to surpass everyone’s expectations in the Play-Offs as they have in the regular season. Fans will be hoping the trio of Edwards, Russel and Towns continue to excel and possibly cause upsets for the Suns or Grizzlies.
Los Angeles Clippers
Sport 24 Season Grade: C- (Should Do Better)
The Clippers came into the 2021-22 season with high hopes of going one step further than last year and reaching the NBA Finals. After a positive start to the regular season injuries to Kawhi Leonard and Paul George took their toll and the Clippers slid out of Play-Off contention. Having clinched a Play-In spot they will be hoping that the return of George and the good form of Reggie Jackson will propel them into the Play-Offs and provide a post-season resurgence.
New Orleans Pelicans
Sport 24 Season Grade: B (Coming Along Nicely)
Having narrowly missed out on the Play-In Tournament last year the Pelicans have gone one step better this season and continues their steady progress in the last few years. The absence of Zion Williams for the entire season will have hindered their progression but a good Post-Season and his return next year may bode well for the future and give Pelicans fans reason to be optimistic.
San Antonio Spurs
Sport 24 Season Grade: D (Troubling Times for San Antonio)
The Spurs find themselves once again squeezing into the final Play in tournament spot after another underwhelming regular season. The loss of All-Star DeMar DeRozan will have been a big blow for fans, especially with his form for the Bulls. An early exit from the post-season and little hope of improvement next year may lead Spurs fans to start to question Gregg Popovich’s position despite his recent achievement of becoming the NBA coach with the highest number of games won in NBA history.