The NBA Play-In tournament 2021 is less than a month away, with multiple teams looking to sneak their way into the playoffs. Most of the elite teams from the Eastern Conference are virtually guaranteed a play-off seed. The Brooklyn Nets are currently atop the NBA Eastern Conference with a 40-20 record, with the Philadelphia 76ers following them close behind. The Milwaukee Bucks are still in the reckoning for a top-2 seed, although the rest of the Eastern Conference has multiple teams vying for the other three direct playoff seeds.
With at least 6 Eastern Conference teams in the reckoning for the Play-In tournament, it is the lower end of the table that will see the most change between now and the end of the regular season.
NBA Play-In Tournament 2021: Predicting the 4 teams from the Eastern Conference
The NBA Play-In tournament 2021 will be held from 18th-21st May, 2021. Perhaps the one team that was expected to enter the playoffs directly and are contenders for the Play-In tournament from the East are the Boston Celtics (32-28). The Miami Heat follow them closely at the 7th position with a 32-29 record. They are followed by the Charlotte Hornets, with the likes of the Indiana Pacers, Washington Wizards and the Chicago Bulls all in the reckoning for a spot in the Play-In tournament. In this article, we attempt to predict the four teams that will enter the Play-In tournament.
#4 Washington Wizards
For the Washington Wizards to have a chance of making it into the playoffs looked like a distant dream for much of the 2020-21 NBA season. Bradley Beal’s incredibly prolific scoring performances, along with the dominant return to form that Russell Westbrook has shown in recent weeks, mean that they now have a fair chance of making their way to the playoffs.
The Washington Wizards are currently 10th in the Eastern Conference, and can be expected to hold on considering their record is vastly better than the Chicago Bulls. While their two major stars will be crucial if they are to end up playing in the playoffs, the recent form of Robin Lopez, Davis Bertans and the addition of Daniel Gafford has also been a boost for the team.
#3 Indiana Pacers
Another team that saw their playoff bid get affected hugely in the 2020-21 NBA season are the Indiana Pacers. They have had their fair share of hiccups throughout the season and are currently without the likes of Domantas Sabonis, Myles Turner and Jeremy Lamb. Additionally, the season-ending injury to TJ Warren also caused a dent in their playoff ambitions.
Regardless, Caris LeVert is looking like his former self again while Malcolm Brogdon is also delivering the goods. With Sabonis’ return and Doug McDermott’s form off the bench, the Indiana Pacers also have a fair chance of making it to the playoffs. They are currently 9th in the Eastern Conference and should be able to hold on.
#2 Charlotte Hornets
For multiple reasons, a number of teams have seen their NBA campaigns get largely affected due to injuries, and the Charlotte Hornets are no different. Hayward is out for another month while LaMelo Ball is slowly inching his way to a return and might be able to feature in the Play-In tournament.
With Malik Monk also out, the Charlotte Hornets have relied on the two-way impact of Terry Rozier, who along with PJ Washington and Miles Bridges has responded to the injury crisis with a considerable increase in production. The Charlotte Hornets should be able to make their way to the Play-In tournament, by which time they should be able to count on their returning stars.
#1 Miami Heat
The Miami Heat will spend the next few weeks competing for a direct seed in the NBA playoffs. Jimmy Butler has caught fire at just the right time for his team, with Bam Adebayo also producing hugely impressive performances in recent weeks.
For the Miami Heat, another unlikely run in the NBA playoffs appears to be on the table. They are currently 6th in the Eastern Conference with a 32-29 record and will be looking to improve on their position so that they don’t have to be a part of the Play-In tournament. That might prove difficult, with the likes of the Boston Celtics, Atlanta Hawks and the New York Knicks leaving little room towards the middle of the NBA Eastern Conference.