The 2020-21 NBA season has come to an end as the basketball world strives to return to normalcy. However, before the full 16-team postseason begins, the league has to get through its play-in tournament first.
For those who aren’t familiar, the concept was added last season where the 7/8 and 9/10 seeds in each conference battle each other to see who’ll qualify for the final four NBA playoff spots. The winner of the 7/8 matchup becomes the 7th seed, while the loser will face the winner of the 9/10 matchup to see who’ll be 8th. It sounds like a lot to process and it is a controversial aspect of the postseason, but it does add some extra stakes.
The play-in tournament begins on Tuesday, May 18 and will start with the Eastern Conference matchups. The Indiana Pacers will play host to the Charlotte Hornets in the 9/10 matchup, while the Washington Wizards will visit the Boston Celtics to decide the 7th seed. Keeping that in mind, Bovada has released odds on both of these games ahead of the action.
NBA Play-In Odds: Charlotte Hornets (No. 10) vs Indiana Pacers (No. 9)
Odds via Bovada as of Monday, May 17
- Record: Hornets (33-39), Pacers (34-38)
- Season series: 2-1 Charlotte
- Moneyline: Hornets (+135), Pacers (-155)
- Point spread: Hornets +3.5 (-110), Pacers -3.5 (-110)
- Total: Over 229.0 — Over (-110), Under (-110)
In the first matchup of the NBA play-in tournament, the Pacers are favored to beat the Hornets at -135 odds. However, don’t let the odds fool you. The Pacers actually have a worse record at home (13-23) than they do away (21-15), so the matchup might work out more for the Hornets. Charlotte also won the season series against Indiana, 2-1, so maybe they can use that to their advantage on Tuesday. Although, if the Hornets want to be victorious, they’re going to need LaMelo Ball to continue playing as he has, if not better than that. He averaged 15.7/5.9/6.1 in his rookie season on .436/.352/.758 shooting and will have to drive the offense if Charlotte wants to advance.
However, the Pacers are far from pushovers. Domantas Sabonis, Malcolm Brogdon and Caris LeVert each averaged more than 20 points for Indiana this season. Brogdon and LeVert are a bit banged up, but, if they’re healthy, the Hornets will need to watch out. After all, the Pacers were one of the highest-scoring teams in the NBA this season, averaging 115.3 points per game (T-5th). Meanwhile, the Hornets were in the opposite direction, averaging 109.5 (23rd).
Play-In Odds: Washington Wizards (No. 8) vs Boston Celtics (No. 7)
Odds via Bovada as of Monday, May 17
- Record: Wizards (34-38), Celtics (36-36)
- Season series: 2-1 Boston
- Moneyline: Wizards (+105), Celtics (-125)
- Point spread: Wizards +1.5 (-110), Celtics -1.5 (-110)
- Total: Over 234.5 — Over (-110), Under (-110)
Few teams underperformed as much as the Boston Celtics did this season. They were projected to be one of the top seeds in the East, but things didn’t work out that way. Instead, they’re the current No. 7 seed and things won’t get much easier now that they lost Jaylen Brown to a wrist injury while he was having the best season of his career.
On the other hand, nobody expected the Wizards to qualify for the NBA play-in tournament with how their season started. After starting 17-32, the Wizards went 17-6 down the stretch to qualify as the No. 8 seed on the very last day of the season. Russell Westbrook has had a monstrous campaign, breaking Oscar Robinson’s triple-double record while also averaging one throughout the season (22.2/11.5/11.7). Meanwhile, they also have Bradley Beal, who averaged a career-high 31.3 points per game in 2021. Considering how hot Washington is and how Boston is 2-6 in its last eight games, the Celtics might not be the favorites that some people think they are.