What to know about the NBA Play-In Tournament: Rules, schedule and more

Apr 14, 2024, 3:11 PM

NBA play-in tournament logo...


The NBA play-in tournament has only been around for a few years and this is the first time the Sacramento Kings will be featured in it.

So if fans are unsure how things work, we’re here to help you.

What is the NBA play-in tournament?

Implemented during the 2020-21 NBA season, the play-in tournament expands the number of postseason teams to 10 in each conference. The top six teams from the East and West are guaranteed playoff spots. Seeds seven through ten then battle for the final two playoff spots.

The seventh seed hosts the eighth seed, with the winner moving on to face their respective conference’s second seed. The losing team gets one more shot to move on, facing the winner of the ninth and tenth matchup.

Whichever team wins that matchup moves on to become the eighth seed in the team’s respective conference. The losing teams are then eliminated from the postseason.

When do play-in games start?

The NBA schedules the play-in tournament before the playoffs even begin. Matchups will take place between Tuesday, April 16 through Friday, April 19.

Which teams are in the play-in?

In the West, the Sacramento Kings, Los Angeles Lakers, Golden State Warriors and New Orleans Pelicans. The teams that move on will take on the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Denver Nuggets.

In the East, the Atlanta Hawks, Chicago Bulls, Philadelphia 76ers, and Miami Heat will face off to determine who plays against the Boston Celtics and New York Knicks.

How to watch the play-in games?

All NBA play-in games can be seen on ESPN and TNT. The Western Conference kicks off the action on Tuesday when:

  • Los Angeles Lakers vs New Orleans Pelicans, Tuesday, April 16 (4:30 p.m. PST; TNT) in the 7/8 matchup
  • Sacramento Kings vs Golden State Warriors, Tuesday, April 16 (7 p.m. PST; TNT) in the 9/10 matchup

In the East:

  • Miami Heat vs. Philadelphia 76ers, Wednesday, April 17 (4 p.m. PST; ESPN) in the 7/8 matchup
  • Atlanta Hawks vs. Chicago Bulls, Wednesday, April 17 (6:30 p.m. PST; ESPN) in the 9/10 matchup

When do the NBA playoffs start then?

The playoffs tip off on Saturday, April 20.

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