Expectations For Tonights NBA Play-In Games

Jimmy Butler

Expectations For Tonights Play-In Games

The NBAs second-ever Play-In Tournament begins tonight, with the 7/8 matchups in both the East and Western Conference. The first game, Atlanta at Miami, directly impacts the Boston Celtics as they await the winner in a best-of-seven series that begins Saturday at 3:30 PM EST. The winner advances to the NBA playoffs as the 7th seed, facing the 2nd seed in their respective conference. 

Atlanta at Miami 

Miami is a surefire bet to beat Atlanta tonight. These two teams met in last year’s playoffs, with Miami winning in five games. Hawks star Trae Young had a woeful showing in that series averaging 15 points per game on 32/18/79 shooting splits. After a big summer shakeup where they acquired defensive stalwart Dejounte Murray, the Hawks regressed in 2022-23, going 41-41.

Similarly, the Heat also looks like a team on the decline. They made the 2020 NBA Finals, losing to the Lakers, as well as last year’s Conference Finals. They’ll have the best player on the floor tonight in superstar (yes, superstar) Jimmy Butler. 

Minnesota at Los Angeles Lakers 

In the West, the Los Angeles Lakers face the plummeting Minnesota Timberwolves, with the winner advancing to play Memphis this weekend. While we’re pulling for the Lakers to lose, it’s hard to envision, especially after this weekend’s Gobert drama resulting in his suspension tonight. Additionally, Minnesota will be without burgeoning star forward Jaden McDaniels as he suffered a broken hand. 

The loss of Gobert may not necessarily be a death knell for the Timberwolves, as the team is 8-4 without him this year. But their depth will be tested, and there’s also the revenge factor with several former Minnesota stars playing for Los Angeles (D’Angelo Russell, Jarred Vanderbilt, Malik Beasley).

Not to mention the massive free throw disparity that LA has benefitted from all year, attempting 428 more free throws than their opponents, twice as many as any other team (per StatMuse). Look for both home teams to come out victorious tonight.

Courtesy of CBS News YouTube channel