NBA play-in tournament explained

The NBA logo is displayed at center court during an NBA first-round playoff game between the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder Sept. 2, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.  (Mark J. Terrill/AP)
The NBA logo is displayed at center court during an NBA first-round playoff game between the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder Sept. 2, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Mark J. Terrill/AP)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

The Atlanta Hawks, currently in possession of the No. 5 seed in the East, are attempting to be among the East’s top six teams May 16, when the regular season concludes.

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Top top six finishers in each conference are guaranteed a postseason spot. Finishing in the seven through 10 spots — according to the standings by winning percentage — means participating in the NBA’s play-in tournament to determine the final playoff berth in each conference.

This is how the three-game event works:

Game 1, May 18: The No. 9 team hosts the No. 10 team. The winner plays the losing team from Game 2 in Game 3. The loser is eliminated, entering the NBA draft lottery.

Game 2, May 19: The No. 7 team hosts the No. 8 team. The winner earns the No. 7 seed in the playoffs. The losing team plays the winner of Game 1 in Game 3.

Game 3, May 20-21: The winner of Game 2 hosts the loser from Game 1. The winner advances to the first round of the playoffs as the No. 8 seed. The loser enters the draft lottery.

The first round of the playoffs begin May 22. The NBA Finals tip off Thursday, July 8.

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