The NBA will continue to have the play-in tournament this season, with the competition determining the No. 7 and No. 8 seeds in each conference ahead of the main playoff bracket. The play-in teams tend to have a tough time going far in the postseason due to their low seed and first-round matchups. Getting out of the play-in tournament is hard enough, especially if you are in the 9-10 matchup.
There isn’t much data to go on, since this is only the second time this competition is being used. Last season, the Memphis Grizzlies got out of the play-in after entering as the No. 9 seed but lost to the Utah Jazz in the first round of the playoffs. So does anybody in this bracket have a chance to win the title?
The Brooklyn Nets have the best title odds of any play-in team at +600 per DraftKings Sportsbook. The Nets entered the season as title favorites, but the James Harden trade and Kyrie Irving’s part-time status hurt them in the standings down the stretch. Kevin Durant was also injured for almost a month. Despite all those things, Brooklyn remains a title threat as long as Durant and Irving are healthy. This is a potential nightmare matchup for either the Heat or Celtics, who have the East’s No. 1 and No. 2 seeds respectively. For bettors looking at value plays, this is likely the highest line the Nets have had all season. The Atlanta Hawks are another potential value play. They haven’t caught fire quite like last year, but this group did make a run to the conference finals as a No. 5 seed.
The San Antonio Spurs have the worst title odds for the play-in teams at +100000. This is expected, as the Spurs are the No. 10 seed and would have to win two games to make the playoffs. Even then, they would enter the main bracket as the No. 8 seed and run into the red-hot Phoenix Suns. Of the West play-in teams, the Los Angeles Clippers represent the best potential title team but even they will be without Kawhi Leonard. That hinders their chances significantly.
With the Nets, Clippers and Hawks in the play-in tournament, it’s possible for a team to win a round or two in the playoffs. Brooklyn is the best candidate to go the furthest, but winning a title seems to be too much of a stretch.