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What fans should know about NBA Play-In Tournament

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Associated Press

When it begins and how fans can watch

Tipoff: Tuesday, May 18-Friday, May 21


Livestream: NBA League Pass (blackout restrictions apply)

How it works

  • Game 1: The No. 7 team in the standings hosts the No. 8 team, with the winner earning the No. 7 seed in the playoffs. The loser will play in Game 3 of the play-in tournament.
  • Game 2: The No. 9 team hosts the No. 10 team, the winner moves on to Game 3. The loser is eliminated.
  • Game 3: The loser of the No. 7 vs. No. 8 matchup hosts the winner of the No. 9 vs. No. 10 matchup, with the victor earning the No. 8 seed in the playoffs. The loser of Game 3 is eliminated.

Why you should watch

While all of the play-in games will likely be entertaining, the Western Conference play-in tournament will decide who the Utah Jazz face in the first round of the playoffs. The No. 1 seed will play the No. 8 seed, determined by the last two games of the tournament, and the No. 2 seed will play the No. 7 seed, determined by the first game of the tournament.

Outside of getting a chance to see who the Jazz are going to play, and how they earned that position, there is also going to be some high-level, entertaining basketball being played. Whether it ends up being the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers vs. Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors in one round, the young and energetic Memphis Grizzlies vs. Gregg Popovich’s San Antonio Spurs or any combination of the four teams playing one another, these games will have all the intensity of playoff basketball and include some of the biggest names in the game. Even if Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers fall into the tournament, we could end up with a 3-point shootout between Lillard and Curry.

The bottom line is these are going to be great games.

What Jazz fans should be rooting for

If Utah is the No. 2 seed ... fans should be rooting for a team other than the Warriors or Lakers to be in the No. 7 vs. No. 8 game and then for the non-Golden State or non-L.A. team to earn the seventh seed. Avoiding Curry or LeBron James in the first round would be an excellent turn of events for the Jazz.

If Utah is the No. 1 seed ... fans should be hoping for an upset. Playing the current 10th seeded team vs. playing the No. 7 seed in the first round would be a huge difference. So Jazz fans should be hoping that the winner of the No. 9 vs. No. 10 game ends up earning the eighth seed because that would probably mean an easier first-round series for the Jazz.

Players to watch

Stephen Curry: He’s the best shooter in the game, he’s been playing at an MVP level and he’s bound to do something memorable and crazy. Just sit back and enjoy the show.

Ja Morant: Last season’s Rookie of the Year is just such an exciting basketball player. He’s so energetic and athletic and skilled and just a delight to watch. Seeing what he’s able to do under pressure on a big stage for the Memphis Grizzlies will be valuable for his development and fun for anyone to see.