NBA Playoffs begin tonight with a twist

National Sports

FILE – In this Sept. 2, 2020, file photo, the NBA logo is displayed at center court during an NBA first-round playoff basketball game. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)

The National Basketball Association (NBA) has wrapped up its 2020-21 regular season, and it’s time for the top 16 teams to battle it out to determine who will take home the Larry O’Brien NBA Championship Trophy.

In recent memory, the teams with the eight-best records in each conference (there are two conferences) got a bid for the playoffs. That changes this year – the league has introduced a play-in tournament, giving the ninth and tenth-seeded teams a chance to make the playoffs.

The first two games are Tuesday night, featuring four teams from the Eastern Conference. The first game features the Charlotte Hornets taking on the Indiana Pacers. The Pacers are three-point favorites, meaning that experts believe they will win by three points or less. Some key players to watch in this game are rookie of the year contender LaMelo Ball for the Hornets, and Caris Levert and Damontis Sabonis for the Pacers. The game starts at 6:30 PM.

The Pacers-Hornets matchup is followed by the Washington Wizards taking on the Boston Celtics. The Wizards are a bit a of a surprise team to make the tournament, as they clawed back from a 19-33 record on April 10 and only lost 5 games the rest of the season. The Celtics are two-point favorites in this matchup. Some key players to watch in the game are Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown for the Celtics, and Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal for the Wizards.

The Western Conference teams get their shot Wednesday, where the San Antonio Spurs will take on the Memphis Grizzlies and the Golden State Warriors take on the Los Angeles Lakers.

ABC will have coverage of several games throughout the playoffs, including exclusive coverage of the NBA Finals. The date will be determined after the conference championships conclude.

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