2021 State Farm NBA Play-In Tournament

Play-In Picture: Race for 8th tightens out West

Golden State and Memphis are locked in a battle to avoid ninth place -- and the single-elimination scenario that comes with it.

From NBA.com Staff

State Farm NBA Play-In Tournament status as of May 11.

Russell Westbrook made history by surpassing Oscar Robertson’s all-time triple-double record, but the Wizards came up just short in a mammoth comeback bid at Atlanta. That game sent ripples up and down the Eastern Conference standings, which already felt different after Thursday’s news that Boston All-Star Jaylen Brown would miss the rest of the season.

Out West, meanwhile, a Golden State win over Utah not only puts first place back in play, but also keeps the Warriors in front of a tightening race for eighth place. With many teams now only having three games remaining, time is running out for teams to make their move — or mistakes.

If the State Farm NBA Play-In Tournament started today:

Eastern Conference

  • East 7 (Celtics) vs. East 8 (Hornets) | Winner gets No. 7 overall seed
  • East 9 (Pacers) vs. East 10 (Wizards) | Loser is eliminated
  • Loser 7/8 vs. Winner 9/10 | Winner gets No. 8 overall seed

Western Conference

  • West 7 (Lakers) vs. West 8 (Warriors) | Winner gets No. 7 overall seed
  • West 9 (Grizzlies) vs. West 10 (Spurs) | Loser is eliminated
  • Loser 7/8 vs. Winner 9/10 | Winner gets No. 8 overall seed

Playoff picture | Current standings | Play-In Tournament FAQ | NBA playoff history


5. Atlanta Hawks (–)

Atlanta Hawks LogoRecord: 38-31
Games Ahead (7th): 2.5
*Holds tiebreaker vs. BOS, MIA
Games Back (5th): —

Last Result: 125-124 W vs. WAS
Next Opponent: vs. WAS on Wednesday


Home court in the first round isn’t out of reach for the Hawks, who are now tied with the fourth-place Knicks in the wins column. An equally thin margin lies just below them, where the resurgent Heat are looming. Atlanta would likely prefer to avoid the third-place Bucks — Milwaukee boasts the league’s second-best point differential (+6.2) — in favor of the Knicks (+2.2) in round one.


6. Miami Heat (–)

Miami Heat logoRecord: 37-31
Games Ahead (7th): 2.0
Games Back (5th): 0.5

Last Result: 130-124 W vs. BOS
Next Opponent: vs. BOS on Tuesday

The Heat held off Celtics in the first of two consecutive showdowns and increased their lead over Boston to 2 games. Miami now has the same record as Atlanta, but the Hawks own the head-to-head tiebreaker. With Charlotte’s loss Sunday night, the Heat are assured of a top-six seed if they take care of business in Boston.



7. Boston Celtics (–)

Boston Celtics logo Record: 35-33
Games Ahead (11th): 6.0
Games Back (6th): 2.0

Last Result: 130-124 vs. MIA
Next Opponent: vs. MIA on Tuesday


Boston did not play on Monday, but it felt like a Celtics loss just the same with the news of Brown’s injury. Recently acquired swingman Evan Fournier becomes that much more important for the Celtics, who will rely more than ever on All-Star forward Jayson Tatum. One silver lining for Boston: Kemba Walker just might be rounding back into form. The four-time All-Star is averaging 26.8 points on 50.0% shooting over his last six games played.


8. Charlotte Hornets (–)

Charlotte Hornets logoRecord: 33-35
Games Ahead (11th): 4.0
Games Back (6th): 4.0

Last Result: 112-110 L vs. NO
Next Opponent: vs. DEN on Tuesday


Washington’s loss and Indiana’s win on Monday represent a fantastic wash for the Hornets, who hold the tiebreakers over both teams. Charlotte would need to lose at least two of its final four games to fall lower than eighth, and even then only if Indiana and/or Washington win out the rest of the way. That’s enormous, as eighth place guarantees two chances for the one Play-In victory needed to make the final Eastern Conference field of eight.


9. Indiana Pacers (🔼)

Indiana Pacers logoRecord: 32-36
Games Ahead (11th): 3.0
Games Back (6th): 5.0

Last Result: 111-102 W vs. CLE
Next Opponent: vs. PHI on Tuesday


Sixth place and a guaranteed playoff berth are no longer in reach for the Pacers, but they can take heart and momentum from the recent play of Domantas Sabonis. The two-time All-Star is averaging 22.7 points, 14.6 rebounds, 8.2 assists, and 1.4 steals while shooting a scalding 57.2% since April 9. Indiana can still make a play for eighth place, but they’ll need help from the Hornets to pull it off.


10. Washington Wizards (🔽)

Washington Wizards logoRecord: 32-37
Games Ahead (11th): 3.5
Games Back (6th): 4.5

Last Result: 125-125 L @ ATL
Next Opponent: @ ATL on Wednesday


Back in 2017, Russell Westbrook punctuated setting the new single-season triple-double record by burying a game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer in Denver. He nearly did the exact same thing against Atlanta on the night he set the all-time triple-double mark. The attempt was off, however, sliding Washington back to 10th and needing a borderline miracle to catch Charlotte for eighth.




11. Chicago Bulls ()

Chicago Bulls logoRecord: 28-39
Games Back (10th): 3.0

Last Result: 108-96 W @ DET
Next Opponent: vs. BKN on Tuesday

The Bulls kept their Play-In chances alive with win over Pistons on Sunday night, pulling within 2 1/2 games of the Pacers. At this point, Chicago essentially needs to win out and hope Indiana’s struggles continue.



5. Dallas Mavericks (–)

Dallas Mavericks logoRecord: 40-28
Games Ahead (7th): 2.0
*Holds tiebreaker vs. LAL
Games Back (5th): —
*Holds tiebreaker vs. POR

Last Result: 124-97 W @ CLE
Next Opponent: @ MEM on Tuesday

The Mavs overcame Luka Doncic’s ejection early in the second half to beat the Cavs on Sunday night and extended their lead to one game over the Blazers in the battle for fifth place in the West. Dallas needs any combination of wins or Lakers losses adding up to 3 to avoid the Play-In Tournament. Portland, meanwhile, is getting larger in the rearview mirror.


6. Portland Trail Blazers (–)

Portland Trail Blazers logoRecord: 40-29
Games Ahead (7th): 1.5
*Holds tiebreaker vs. LAL
Games Back (5th): 0.5
*POR holds tiebreaker vs. DAL

Last Result: 140-129 W vs. HOU
Next Opponent: @ UTA on Wednesday

Portland survived a comeback scare by the Rockets to inch even closer to fifth place. Actually getting there will be a tall order. Utah looms on Wednesday, and the Jazz are still in a heated race of their own for first place in the Western Conference despite missing their All-Star backcourt. Damian Lillard is in fine form since returning from a hamstring injury in April, averaging 28.6 points and shooting 44.2% from deep over his last 12 games.



7. Los Angeles Lakers (–)

Los Angeles Lakers logoRecord: 38-30
Games Ahead (11th): 7.5
Games Back (6th): 1.5
*POR holds tiebreaker

Last Result: 123-110 W vs. PHX
Next Opponent: vs. NYK on Tuesday

The Lakers are assured of at least a Play-In berth after New Orleans’ loss to Memphis on Monday, but the path for better remains just out of reach as long as Portland keeps winning. L.A. will hope for Anthony Davis’ resurgence to continue against a Knicks defense that ranks fourth in the league.


8. Golden State Warriors ()

Golden State Warriors logoRecord: 36-33
Games Ahead (11th): 5
Games Back (6th): 4.0

Last Result: 119-116 W vs. UTA
Next Opponent: vs. PHX on Tuesday


The Warriors fought off an absurdly resilient Jazz team for a crucial win to maintain eighth place, with ninth and 10th offering single-elimination pitfalls. Stephen Curry and Draymond Green are playing their best basketball since the glory days, but they’ll continue to need unexpected contributions from elsewhere. On Monday, that came from Jordan Poole, who punched in 20 points in under 19 minutes off the bench.


9. Memphis Grizzlies ()

Memphis Grizzlies logoRecord: 35-33
Games Ahead (11th): 4.5
Games Back (6th): 4.5

Last Result: 115-110 W vs. NOP
Next Opponent: vs. DAL on Tuesday


That Memphis can survive a 5-for-14 shooting night from Ja Morant is a credit to his underrated teammates, who have kept the Grizzlies in the playoff picture all year. Jonas Valanciunas (20 points, 11 rebounds vs. New Orleans) continues printing double-doubles, while Dillon Brooks’ ability to catch fire often catches teams off guard. The Grizzlies host the Mavericks on Tuesday in a game that is absolutely critical for both teams.


10. San Antonio Spurs (–)

San Antionio Spurs logoRecord: 33-35
Games Ahead (11th): 2.5
Games Back (6th): 6.5

Last Result: 146-125 W vs. MIL
Next Opponent: @ BKN on Wednesday


The Spurs are officially the only team New Orleans can catch for the Play-In, but they got an entire extra game’s worth of cushion thanks to the Pelicans’ loss and their own impressive win over the Bucks. San Antonio will need more of that — their final four games of the season are against the Nets, Knicks, and Suns (twice).



11. New Orleans Pelicans (–)

New Orleans Pelicans logoRecord: 31-38
Games Back (10th): 2.5

Last Result: 115-110 L @ MEM
Next Opponent: @ DAL on Wednesday


Monday’s loss to Memphis was a brutal blow to the Pelicans’ Play-In chances. They now need a two-way sweep — to win their last three remaining games while praying the Spurs lose their final four — to somehow sneak into the Play-In.


12. Sacramento Kings (–)

Sacramento Kings logoRecord: 30-38
Games Back (10th): 3.0

Last Result: 126-98 W vs. OKC
Next Opponent: vs. OKC on Tuesday


Ending the NBA’s longest playoff drought –14 years — seems like a longshot for the Kings, who beat the Thunder on Sunday night but still trail the Spurs by a full three games. They get another date with OKC on Tuesday, play two road games in Memphis and finish the season hosting Utah.


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