2023-24: Preview to the NBA Play-In Games

LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers are looking to soar to new heights. Photo Courtesy: Erik Drost

By DaVince “Dino” Wright

This is having been one of the strangest seasons in NBA history. The league started its “Play-In Tournament” which was won by the struggling LA Lakers. Lakers forward LeBron James became the league’s all-time scoring leader while playing 21 seasons in the NBA. Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green was suspended twice and then reinstated. The coaching carousel has been a total nightmare for the Pistons, 76ers, Celtics and Raptors to name a few. The new rule changes were slated to be fan friendly actually turned out to be very player friendly to say the least. Teams allowed players to take games off and rest when traveling to small market cities which I believe hurt the NBA season. Why buy a $120 jersey for a $100 game only to watch your favorite player reduced to a cheerleader. The play-in games are about to start up for those struggling teams that couldn’t measure up this season. I’m going to share my previews and picks and pray that the playoffs will be more entertaining than this past regular season.

NBA Play-In Games

LA Lakers vs New Orleans Pelicans
Date: April 16
Time: 6:30 p.m.
This game is for 7th and 8th place in the Western Conference. I’m looking for the Pelicans to beat the Lakers! You heard it here first. LA has struggled this whole season with LeBron controlling the offense. The Lakers have been a better team with him not playing. Keep an eye on the Pelican back court with C.J. McCullum and Zion Williams running the floor in transition.
Final Score: Lakers 101 – Pelicans 109

Golden State Warriors vs Sacramento Kings
Date: April 16
Time: 9:00 p.m.
The Golden State Warriors have struggled this season. The team with the most rings in the last 6 years are struggling just to make the playoffs. This game is for 9th and 10th place in the Western Conference. This season has showcased the young tough talented Kings making a push to get in and make a championship run. Kings guard De’Arron Fox is a bright star rising to leave his mark on the NBA for years to come. I’m taking Golden State by 12.
Final Score: Warriors 124 – Kings 112

Miami Heat vs Philadelphia 76ers
Date: April 17
Time: 6:00 p.m.
This game is for the 7th and 8th seed in the Eastern Conference. The 76ers have been one of the best teams in the East this season only to drop 10 games during the last 2 months of the season. Now they are on a 5-game winning streak. The Heat is somewhat healthy. The key for the Heat: Will be ready to play on the road and steal a game from the 76ers? I’m taking Philly by 9!
Final Score: Heat 109 – 76ers 118

Atlanta Hawks vs Chicago Bulls
Date: April 17
Time: 8:30 p.m.
This game is for 9th and 10th spot in the Eastern Conference. In their last 5 games, the Bulls are 2-3 while the Hawks are 0-5. This game will be huge for both teams. Both teams have 5 players listed as GTD (game time decision). This is that game that no one really cares about other than the fans of the teams and those who have a friendly wager on it. I like both teams and I’m taking the Bulls by 12. I like DeMar Derozan in the 4th quarter to lift the Bulls in this one.
Final Score: Hawks 96 – Bulls 109