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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?

With NBA regular season games still taking place, the playoff picture is unclear as the team rankings are still changing – meaning we won’t know who’s made the playoffs or the play-in tournament until the regular season ends.

As it stands, five teams across the two conferences have already clinched playoff places. The rest continue to battle it out to be one of the top-6 seeds that automatically get a playoff spot.

The Western Conference

In the Western Conference, the Minnesota Timberwolves, Denver Nuggets, and Oklahoma City Thunder are confirmed as playoff-bound. The LA Clippers, Dallas Mavericks, and Phoenix Suns are currently in 4th, 5th, and 6th place, respectively.

This leaves the play-in teams in the West still up in the air. The current standings have the 7-10 positions filled by (in order) the New Orleans Pelicans, Sacramento Kings, Los Angeles Lakers, and Golden State Warriors.

The following Western teams have been eliminated from playoff consideration. Better luck next year, guys!

The Eastern Conference

As for the Eastern Conference, the Boston Celtics have secured not just a playoff berth, but the position of No. 1 Seed. The Milwaukee Bucks have also secured a place in the playoffs, but this leaves (in order) the Orlando Magic, New York Knicks, Cleveland Cavaliers, Indiana Pacers, Philadelphia 76ers, and Miami Heat with at least a play-in spot, as they continue battling to be in the top six heading to the playoffs.

This means the Chicago Bulls and Atlanta Hawks, ranking 9th and 10th respectively, will get a shot at the play-in games but won’t be able to make the playoffs any other way.

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.

If the season ended with the current rankings, the Pelicans would play the Kings 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 Lakers and Warriors, as the Western Conference’s no. 9 and 10 seeds, would play against each other in Group B. For the Eastern Conference, these teams are the Bulls and Hawks, respectively. 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 (teams are listed as if the games were played using the rankings that stood going into the final week of the regular season – times and teams will be updated when confirmed):

DateTime (ET)TeamsTV
Tue Apr 167:30 pmPlay-In Tournament Round 1TNT
Tue Apr 1610:00 pmPlay-In Tournament Round 1TNT
Wed Apr 177:30 pmPlay-In Tournament Round 1ESPN/ESPN2
Wed Apr 1710:05 pmPlay-In Tournament Round 1ESPN
Fri Apr 197:40 pmPlay-In Tournament Round 2ESPN
Fri Apr 199:30 pmPlay-In Tournament Round 2TNT

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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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