The NBA’s play-in tournament adds a fascinating wrinkle to the end of the 2022-23 regular season and the start of the postseason. Teams were already less incentivized to tank games down the stretch because of the flattened lottery odds instituted in 2019. Now that the top 10 teams in the standings will finish the regular season with at least a chance to make the playoffs, more franchises will stay in the mix longer.
Some players, such as Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James, were less than thrilled about the prospect of the play-in tournament, but we should expect some heated contests as teams fight to capture the final playoff seeds in each conference, as we’ve seen in each season the NBA has used this setup.
Here’s everything you need to know about the 2023 play-in tournament, including matchups, when and where it’s happening and how it works.
Which teams are playing?
Here’s a look at the 2023 matchups:
Complete first-round playoff coverage
How does the NBA play-in tournament work?
There will be six total games involving eight teams as part of the play-in tournament, split up between the two conferences.
The teams that finish Nos. 1-6 in each conference will be guaranteed playoff spots, while team Nos. 7-10 in the standings will enter the play-in. Any team that finishes worse than No. 10 will be in the NBA draft lottery.
Here’s how the games will work:
Game 1s (Tuesday): Each conference’s No. 7 team in the standings will host the No. 8 team, with the winner earning the No. 7 seed in the playoffs. The losing teams get another chance in Friday’s Game 3s.
Game 2s (Wednesday): Each conference’s No. 9 team will host the No. 10 team, with the winner moving on to Game 3. The losers are eliminated and enter the NBA draft lottery.
Game 3s (Friday): The losers of the No. 7 vs. No. 8 matchups will host the winners of the No. 9 vs. No. 10 matchups, with the victors grabbing each conference’s No. 8 seed in the postseason. The losers of Game 3 enter the NBA draft lottery.
This means that the teams with the seventh and eighth-highest winning percentages will have two opportunities to win one game to earn a playoff spot, while the teams with the ninth and 10th-highest winning percentages need to win two straight games to advance.