NBA Playoffs 2022: Play-In Tournament Schedule, Bracket, Odds and TV InfoApril 11, 2022
NBA Playoffs 2022: Play-In Tournament Schedule, Bracket, Odds and TV Info
Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Trae Young, Paul George and Brandon Ingram are among the NBA stars who need victories in the play-in tournament to advance to the first round of the postseason.
The star power alone makes the play over the next few days intriguing because of what is at stake for those players and their teams.
Durant, Irving and the Brooklyn Nets are the biggest story of the play-in round. The Nets used a winning run at the end of the regular season to land a home game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday. Brooklyn recently handled Cleveland inside Barclays Center, and the expectation is for it to cruise past Darius Garland and Co. to set up a playoff series with the Boston Celtics.
George's return to the Los Angeles Clippers lineup makes the No. 7-No. 8 clash in the Western Conference fascinating. The Clippers are set to take on a less playoff-experienced Minnesota Timberwolves team, and they will make the game incredibly difficult on Anthony Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns et al.
The losers of Tuesday's games drop into Friday's elimination contests against the winners of the No. 9-No. 10 games.
The Atlanta Hawks and Charlotte Hornets face off in the East, while the New Orleans Pelicans play host to the San Antonio Spurs in the West.
Tuesday's winners face the No. 2 seeds in their respective conferences. Friday's victors will move on to play the top seeds.
No. 8 Cleveland Cavaliers at No. 7 Brooklyn Nets
Odds: Brooklyn (-8.5), Over/Under 229.5
Game Info: Tuesday, April 12, 7 p.m. ET, TNT
Brooklyn landed the No. 7 spot in the Eastern Conference standings by way of its victory over Cleveland on Friday.
Kevin Durant took over that contest with 36 points. The Nets followed that up with a home win over the Indiana Pacers, in which Kyrie Irving scored 35 points.
The expectation is that at least one of Brooklyn's superstars takes over Tuesday's contest and propels the Nets into a first-round matchup against the Boston Celtics.
The Nets bossed the rebounding battle Friday, as Andre Drummond and Bruce Brown both hit double figures in that category. Those numbers came with Evan Mobley back on the floor for Cleveland.
Drummond, a former Cavalier, could clean up on the glass and limit any second-chance opportunities, while Brown and Seth Curry should be vital in making a handful of key shots to support Durant and Irving.
Brooklyn's one flaw has been its defense. The Nets conceded more than 100 points in four of their final five regular-season games and let up 126 points to the Pacers on Sunday.
The Nets have been hit hard in the opposing assist department. Indiana had 32 handouts Sunday, and Cleveland had 19 helpers on Friday. That could be a good sign for Garland's assist prop when those numbers are released closer to tip time.
Brooklyn should win the game, but Cleveland has the potential to make it interesting and remain within the 8.5-point spread.
No. 8 Los Angeles Clippers at No. 7 Minnesota Timberwolves
Odds: Minnesota (-3), Over/Under: 230.5
Game Info: Tuesday, April 12, 9:30 p.m. ET, TNT
The Los Angeles Clippers appear to have the best chance to win on the road in the four scheduled play-in contests.
The Clippers have looked strong since Paul George's return, but they were unable to make a move in the standings because of the gap between them and Minnesota.
The Wolves have an issue in the form of their defense. They have the second-worst scoring defense of the franchises left playing basketball. Minnesota consistently gives up more than 120 points. That is a bad sign for Tuesday and the rest of the postseason.
George returned from his extended injury layoff in terrific form. He scored more than 20 points in three of his past five games and knocked down five or more three-point shots in three contests. Additionally, the Clippers got back Norman Powell from his injury layoff. Powell and Robert Covington were acquired at the trade deadline from Portland to provide the Clippers with more depth in the postseason.
Ty Lue's team is deeper and has the best superstar in the matchup with Minnesota, but do not count out the Wolves just yet. Anthony Edwards is coming off a 49-point outburst against San Antonio on Thursday, and Karl-Anthony Towns could get L.A.'s big men into foul trouble.
Minnesota needs to play a perfect game to defend home court and set up a clash with the Memphis Grizzlies. If not, George and the Clippers will leave Minnesota with a win and plenty of momentum heading into Tennessee.
No. 10 Charlotte Hornets at No. 9 Atlanta Hawks
Odds: Atlanta (-4.5), Over/Under: 237.5
Game Info: Wednesday, April 13, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN
Scoring will not be a problem in Wednesday's Eastern Conference elimination game.
The Atlanta Hawks and Charlotte Hornets are projected to score the most points in the play-in round by the oddsmakers. The sides both reached more than 100 points in three of their four regular-season meetings, which they split.
Charlotte has the highest points-per-game-allowed total of the 20 teams still alive. Atlanta is fourth in that category behind Minnesota and San Antonio.
Trae Young is the immediate difference-maker you point out in this matchup because of his star power, but Atlanta could have one more advantage that takes it into Friday's clash with the Brooklyn-Cleveland loser.
Clint Capela had 17 points and 15 rebounds in his team's most recent clash with Charlotte. He had two double-doubles against the Hornets this season. Capela could exploit his mismatch against Mason Plumlee to give Atlanta the edge it needs to win at home.
Atlanta's defense will be put under pressure by LaMelo Ball, Terry Rozier and Miles Bridges. Ball was two rebounds shy of a triple-double in the teams' previous meeting.
The Hawks' other edge could come in bench scoring. Bogdan Bogdanovic has been great in his sixth-man role, and he may take advantage of Charlotte's three-point defense, which is one of the three worst in the postseason.
Atlanta does not have a strong three-point defense, either, but its depth down low and off the bench could help it overcome that shortcoming.
No. 10 San Antonio Spurs at No. 9 New Orleans Pelicans
Odds: New Orleans (-5.5), Over/Under: 229
Game Info: Wednesday, April 13, 9:30 p.m. ET, TNT
New Orleans put itself in position to host a play-in game thanks to the arrival of C.J. McCollum.
McCollum added more star power to the Zion Williamson-less lineup, and the Pelicans have played well since he joined in February. He and Brandon Ingram formed a nice partnership that vibes well with Jonas Valanciunas' presence in the paint.
The former Portland Trail Blazers guard led all scorers with 32 points in the previous meeting with the Spurs on March 26. Ingram did not play in the four-point Spurs win, and his presence should shift the matchup in New Orleans' favor. But you can never doubt a team coached by Gregg Popovich too much in this situation.
Dejounte Murray and Keldon Johnson took their games to another level this season, while Devin Vassell developed into a solid third scoring option after Derrick White was traded to Boston.
Johnson and Vassell could take advantage of New Orleans' three-point defense, which is second-worst among teams still alive behind the Chicago Bulls.
New Orleans' defensive ace, Herbert Jones, could be the difference-maker in that matchup. Jones will likely be assigned to one of the Spurs' top shooters, and if he can slow down Johnson or Vassell, the Pelicans should gain the edge on their home court.
Odds via FanDuel Sportsbook.
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