NBA Playoffs are Near!


Anthony Ford, Athletics Editor

The NBA regular season is coming to an end, and with it,  a roller coaster of a season filled with injuries, star-studded performances, and plenty of absences due to COVID-19 protocols. But before the playoffs begin, the play-in tournament, which is the league’s new format which determines the eight playoff teams from each conference. The system allows the ten top teams in the Eastern and Western Conference standings to play for their chances for a spot in the playoffs, making the end of the regular season more exciting. What makes things different is the 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th seeds that will play in a tournament to decide the final two seeds (7th and 8th) in the two conferences.

The Western Conference playoff race is the more interesting of the two, with the 3rd and 4th seeds not being decided, and the 5-7 seeds up for grabs. The Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Clippers are fighting for the 3rd seed, and the Dallas Mavericks, Portland Trailblazers, and Los Angeles Lakers competing for the 5th, 6th, and 7th seeds. Whoever ends up with the 7th seed, will most likely have to face up against the Golden State Warriors in a situation where the winner locks in the 7th seed for the playoffs, and the loser faces up against the winner in the game between the 9th and the 10th seeds  (game 2) to determine who will fight for the 8th seed in game 3 of the tournament.

That is fairly confusing, but Jayden Equipado put it into simpler terms.

“So, basically, there are going to be three games. The first game locks up the 7th seed, and the second game-winner gets to play in the third game which will lock up the 8th seed. The third game is going to consist of the loser from the first, and the winner from the second. So the 7th and 8th seeds have to either win once to get into the playoffs or lose twice to get eliminated. The 9th and 10th seeds have to win twice to get into the playoffs or lose once to get eliminated. Phew, I almost got confused there!”

One of the biggest stories regarding the play-in tournament revolves around the Los Angeles Lakers. Whether or not star forwards, LeBron James and Anthony Davis, play is up in the air with LeBron facing ankle soreness and Davis facing a groin issue. James has missed 25 out of his last 27 games, and time is running out to catch his stride and knock off the rust before the playoffs.

Jayden Equipado gives his predictions on the 2021 playoffs.

“I am going to have to go with my favorite team to win the championship simply due to the fact that they did just that last year. Although they were not injury-related, the Lakers were having doubt and speculation headed into the playoffs last year, performing poorly in the bubble after a 3 or 4 month-long hiatus. But one thing I have learned the last few years when it comes to LeBron James and the playoffs, you hardly ever bet against him, and I am not going to do that now. Go Lakers, and go LeBron.”