NBA play-in tournament 2023: Lakers take 7-seed, Wolves top Pels for 8-seed


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 and Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic, 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 current projected play-in matchups as of today (through games of March 29):

Eastern Conference

Western Conference

Here are the current play-in tournament standings for each conference.

Eastern Conference

Western Conference

Complete NBA standings

Which games do I need to watch?

These games could have an impact on the play-in race over the final weeks of the season (games involving multiple play-in adjacent teams are listed in bold).

Thursday, March 30

Friday, March 31

  • Bulls at Hornets, 7 p.m. ET

  • Thunder at Pacers, 7 p.m. ET

  • Raptors at 76ers, 7 p.m. ET

  • Magic at Wizards, 7 p.m. ET

  • Jazz at Celtics, 7:30 p.m. ET

  • Hawks at Nets, 7:30 p.m. ET

  • Clippers at Grizzlies, 8 p.m. ET

  • Lakers at Timberwolves, 8 p.m. ET

  • Spurs at Warriors, 10 p.m. ET

  • Nuggets at Suns, 10:30 p.m. ET

Saturday, April 1

  • Mavericks at Heat, 7:30 p.m. ET

  • Clippers at Pelicans, 8:30 p.m. ET

Complete upcoming NBA schedule

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 lottery.

Here’s how the games will work:

  • Game 1: The 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 team gets another chance in Game 3.

  • Game 2: The No. 9 team will host the No. 10 team, with the winner moving on to Game 3. The loser is eliminated and enters the NBA draft lottery.

  • Game 3: The loser of the No. 7 vs. No. 8 matchup will host the winner of the No. 9 vs. No. 10 matchup, with the victor grabbing the No. 8 seed in the postseason. The loser of Game 3 also enters the lottery.

This means that the teams with the seventh-highest and eighth-highest winning percentages will have two opportunities to win one game to earn a playoff spot, while the teams with the ninth-highest and 10th-highest winning percentages need to win two straight games to advance.

How important is seeding within the play-in race?