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NBA Play-In Tournament: The Amazing Absolute Must-Watch Pathway to the 2024 Playoffs

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The NBA Play-In Tournament is a high-stakes, single-elimination competition that takes place at the end of the regular NBA season, offering lower-seeded teams a chance to secure a spot in the playoffs. You can watch all six games live to see which underdogs will get a shot at the trophy on Sling TV – and you can do it for just $20.

In a hurry? Sling Orange includes ESPN and TNT both for just $40.00/mo – the cheapest TV provider that carries ESPN. Those are the only two channels you need for the Play-In Tournament, and Sling TV then offers everything you need to watch the Playoffs as well. Save 50% on your first month of Sling TV.

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The Play-In Tournament is a relative newcomer to the NBA’s postseason format, but it’s one that’s been popular with both players and fans. By having this “pre-playoff”, 20 out of 30 teams can continue in the competition after the regular season ends. Plus it gives teams a reason not to tank or intentionally lose a game to get a better position in the NBA Draft process.

If you want to get in on this – the tip-off to the postseason – all you need to sign up for is Sling Orange, as it has everything required to watch every play-in game. Read on for details.

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NBA Play-In Tournament Overview

The NBA Playoffs work the same as for most sports: the teams in each conference are seeded (or ranked) by winning percentage, and the top six teams automatically get to compete for the NBA Championship title.

The Play-In Tournament includes the four 7th-to-10th-place teams in the league standings after the regular season. Those teams then play a kind of mini-tournament to determine the No. 7 and 8 Seeds which then get to play in the playoffs. It was first implemented in the 2019-20 season to help mitigate the effect of COVID-19 on the season.

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Warrior Jonas Jerebko and Portland Trail Blazer Rodney Hood at the 2019 NBA Playoffs - the last year before the NBA Play-In Tournament was implemented
Golden State Warrior Jonas Jerebko and Portland Trail Blazer Rodney Hood at the 2019 NBA Playoffs / taken by Frenchieinportland under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

What Teams Are Participating in the 2024 NBA Play-In Tournament?

The NBA regular season ended on Sunday, April 14, deciding which 20 teams made the postseason bracket.

The four lowest-ranking teams (seeds 7-10) in each conference will battle it out in the play-in matches to determine the no. 7 and 8 seeds that will advance to the playoffs.

The Western Conference

In the Western Conference, Oklahoma City Thunder, Denver Nuggets, and Minnesota Timberwolves finished top three in the standings so are automatically playoff-bound. The LA Clippers, Dallas Mavericks, and Phoenix Suns finished in 4th, 5th, and 6th place, respectively, meaning they also secured playoff slots.

This leaves the play-in matches to determine the final two Western teams. The four teams in contention are the New Orleans Pelicans, Los Angeles Lakers, Sacramento Kings, and Golden State Warriors.

The following Western teams ranked outside the top ten and were eliminated from playoff consideration. Better luck next year, guys!

The Eastern Conference

As for the Eastern Conference, the Boston Celtics secured not just a playoff berth, but the position of No. 1 Seed. The New York Knicks finished second, followed (in order) by the Milwaukee Bucks, Cleveland Cavaliers, Orlando Magic, and Indiana Pacers.

The Philadelphia 76ers and Miami Heat had been working to secure a playoff spot, but will now head to the play-ins with the Chicago Bulls and Atlanta Hawks (who ranked 9th and 10th, respectively).

These Eastern teams missed any boat to the playoffs, though. Maybe next year, fellas!

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How Does the 2024 NBA Play-In Tournament Work?

Teams are divided into Groups A and B. Group A is the 7th and 8th seed, and they play each other, with the winner taking the 7th playoff seed.

In Group B, the 9th and 10th seeds play. The loser is out, but the winner goes on to play the loser of the Group A match, and that winner takes the 8th seed.

This means the Pelicans will play the Lakers in the Western Conference as the no. 7 and 8 seeds, respectively. In the Eastern Conference, these teams are the 76ers and Heat. The winner of those two matches will move into the playoffs.

The Kings and Warriors, as the Western Conference’s no. 9 and 10 seeds, will play against each other in Group B. For the Eastern Conference, these teams are the Bulls and Hawks. The winner of these matches will play the loser of their conference’s Group A matches, to decide the final playoff slot.

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Watch the NBA Play-In Tournament 2024 on Sling TV

Sling TV NBA TV Android
NBA TV on an Android phone running Sling TV.

The Sling Orange plan for $40.00/mo is all you need to watch every game of the 2024 NBA play-in – and the rest of the playoffs. This makes it the cheapest way to watch the playoffs.

Sling TV also offers the best overall value in streaming services because it allows you to customize your channel lineup in a way no other does. This means you only pay for the channels and shows you want to watch, and none of the extras you don’t.

It also provides an up-to-date app that runs on almost all streaming devices available, including Amazon Fire TV and sticks, Apple TV, Roku, Android and iOS mobile devices, Xbox gaming system, and more.

And any Sling plan comes with 50 hours of free cloud-DVR storage. What’s more, you get a 50% discount on your first month if you sign up now!

Read our complete Sling TV review for more details.

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When Is the NBA Play-In Tournament?

The NBA Play-In Tournament is just six matchups long, played over three days. Here’s a rundown

Tuesday, April 16 – Western Conference

  • : No. 7 Pelicans vs No. 8 Lakers (TNT)
  • : No. 9 Kings vs No. 10 Warriors (TNT)

Wednesday, April 17 – Eastern Conference

  • : No. 7 76ers vs No. 8 Heat (ESPN)
  • : No. 9 Bulls vs No. 10 Hawks (ESPN)

Friday, April 19

  • TBD: East No. 7/8 vs East No. 9/10 (ESPN)
  • TBD: West No. 7/8 vs West No. 9/10 (TNT)

The winners will go onto play in the playoffs:

DateTime (ET)TeamsTV
Tue Apr 167:30 pmLos Angeles Lakers vs New Orleans PelicansTNT
Tue Apr 1610:00 pmGolden State Warriors vs Sacramento KingsTNT
Wed Apr 177:30 pmMiami Heat vs Philadelphia 76ersESPN/ESPN2
Wed Apr 1710:05 pmAtlanta Hawks vs Chicago BullsESPN
Fri Apr 197:40 pmChicago Bulls vs Miami HeatESPN
Fri Apr 199:30 pmNew Orleans Pelicans vs Sacramento KingsTNT
Sat Apr 201:00 pmMagic vs CavaliersESPN
Sat Apr 203:30 pmSuns vs TimberwolvesESPN
Sat Apr 206:00 pm76ers vs KnicksESPN
Sat Apr 208:30 pmLakers vs NuggetsABC
Sun Apr 211:00 pmHeat vs CelticsABC
Sun Apr 213:30 pmMavericks vs ClippersABC
Sun Apr 217:00 pmPacers vs BucksTNT
Sun Apr 219:30 pmPelicans vs ThunderTNT
Mon Apr 227:00 pmMagic vs CavaliersNBA TV
Mon Apr 227:30 pm76ers vs KnicksTNT
Mon Apr 2210:00 pmLakers vs NuggetsTNT
Tue Apr 237:30 pmSuns vs TimberwolvesTNT
Tue Apr 238:30 pmPacers vs BucksNBA TV
Tue Apr 2310:00 pmMavericks vs ClippersTNT
Wed Apr 247:00 pmHeat vs CelticsTNT
Wed Apr 249:30 pmPelicans vs ThunderTNT
Thu Apr 257:00 pmCavaliers vs MagicNBA TV
Thu Apr 257:30 pmKnicks vs 76ersTNT
Thu Apr 2510:00 pmNuggets vs LakersTNT
Fri Apr 265:30 pmBucks vs PacersESPN
Fri Apr 268:00 pmClippers vs MavericksESPN
Fri Apr 2610:30 pmTimberwolves vs SunsESPN
Sat Apr 271:00 pmCavaliers vs MagicTNT
Sat Apr 273:30 pmThunder vs PelicansTNT
Sat Apr 276:00 pmCeltics vs HeatTNT
Sat Apr 278:30 pmNuggets vs LakersABC
Sun Apr 281:00 pmKnicks vs 76ersABC
Sun Apr 283:30 pmClippers vs MavericksABC
Sun Apr 287:00 pmBucks vs PacersTNT
Sun Apr 289:30 pmTimberwolves vs SunsTNT
Mon Apr 29TBDCeltics vs Heat
Mon Apr 29TBDLakers vs Nuggets
Mon Apr 29TBDThunder vs Pelicans
Tue Apr 307:00 pm76ers vs KnicksTNT
Tue Apr 308:00 pmMagic vs CavaliersNBA TV
Tue Apr 309:30 pmPacers vs BucksTNT
Wed May 17:30 pmHeat vs CelticsTNT
Wed May 110:00 pmMavericks vs ClippersTNT
Sat May 47:00 pmTimberwolves vs NuggetsTNT/truTV
Sun May 51:00 pmMagic vs Cavaliers†
Mon May 67:30 pmPacers vs KnicksTNT/truTV
Mon May 610:00 pmTimberwolves vs NuggetsTNT/truTV
Tue May 77:00 pmCavaliers vs CelticsTNT/truTV
Tue May 79:30 pmMavericks vs ThunderTNT/truTV
Wed May 88:00 pmPacers vs KnicksTNT/truTV
Thu May 97:00 pmCavaliers vs CelticsESPN
Thu May 99:30 pmMavericks vs ThunderESPN
Fri May 107:00 pmKnicks vs PacersESPN
Fri May 109:30 pmNuggets vs TimberwolvesESPN
Sat May 113:30 pmThunder vs MavericksABC
Sat May 118:30 pmCeltics vs CavaliersABC
Sun May 123:00 pmNBA Draft LotteryABC
Sun May 123:30 pmKnicks vs PacersABC
Sun May 128:30 pmNuggets vs TimberwolvesTNT
Mon May 137:00 pmCeltics vs CavaliersTNT/truTV
Mon May 139:30 pmThunder vs MavericksTNT/truTV
Tue May 148:00 pmPacers vs KnicksTNT
Tue May 1410:30 pmTimberwolves vs NuggetsTNT
Wed May 157:00 pmCavaliers vs CelticsTNT
Wed May 159:30 pmMavericks vs ThunderTNT
Thu May 168:30 pmNuggets vs TimberwolvesESPN
Fri May 17TBDKnicks vs PacersESPN
Fri May 178:30 pmCeltics vs CavaliersESPN
Sat May 188:30 pmThunder vs MavericksESPN
Sun May 193:30 pmPacers vs KnicksABC
Sun May 198:00 pmTimberwolves vs NuggetsTNT
Tue May 218:00 pmPacers vs CelticsESPN/ESPN2
Wed May 228:30 pmMavericks vs TimberwolvesTNT/truTV
Thu May 238:00 pmPacers vs CelticsESPN
Fri May 248:30 pmMavericks vs TimberwolvesTNT/truTV
Sat May 258:30 pmCeltics vs PacersABC
Sun May 268:00 pmTimberwolves vs MavericksTNT/truTV
Mon May 278:00 pmCeltics vs PacersESPN/ESPN2
Tue May 288:30 pmTimberwolves vs MavericksTNT/truTV
Thu May 308:30 pmMavericks vs TimberwolvesTNT
Thu Jun 68:30 pmMavericks vs CelticsABC
Sun Jun 98:00 pmMavericks vs CelticsABC
Wed Jun 128:30 pmCeltics vs MavericksABC
Fri Jun 148:30 pmCeltics vs MavericksABC
Mon Jun 178:30 pmMavericks vs Celtics‡ABC
Thu Jun 208:30 pmCeltics vs Mavericks‡ABC
Sun Jun 238:00 pmMavericks vs Celtics‡ABC

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Wrapping Up

The 2024 NBA play-in tournament games offer two more teams in each conference an entry into the playoffs, so they’re likely to see all players bring their best. The six matchups take place April 16th-19th, and you can watch them all with Sling Orange for the cheapest price. Save 50% on your first month of Sling TV.

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How do NBA Playoffs work 2024?

The NBA Playoffs start after the regular season has ended. In 2024, the first round starts April 20th, after the Play-In Tournament ends on April 19th. Sixteen teams make the playoffs, eight from each conference (East and West). The top six teams from the regular season automatically advance to the playoffs, while the final two are decided by the Play-In Tournament.

There are four rounds of best-of-seven games during the playoffs, using a traditional bracket format. The rounds are known as the First Round, Conference Semifinals, Conference Finals, and then the NBA Finals.

When are the 2024 NBA Playoffs?

The 2024 NBA Playoffs schedule is as follows:

  • April 16-19: NBA Play-In Tournament (ESPN, TNT)
  • April 20: First Rounds begin (ABC, ESPN, TNT, NBA TV)
  • May 6-7: Conference Semifinals begin (ABC, ESPN, TNT)
  • May 21-22: Conference Finals begin (ABC, ESPN, TNT)
  • June 6: NBA Finals (ABC)

All channels airing playoff games can be streamed online with Sling TV.

Page Updates

  1. Updated for 2024.

  2. Added links to streaming services. Cross linking.

  3. Reworked some sections.

Alanna Baker
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