Around the Association: Play-In, Game 82, Lottery Odds

Brendan Staff, Staff Writer


After officially adopting the play-in tournament format in 2022, the play-in is back for this year’s post season. This format received mostly positive opinions from fans in the past, as it gives teams on the edge something to play for, and can set up for some high energy, intense single game showdowns. Last night, the Hawks handled the Heat in a 116-105 victory sending them straight to the playoffs as a 7 seed. In the west, an exciting matchup between the Lakers and TImberwolves took place. The Lakers seemed to have the game in the bag as Dennis Schroder hit a 3 with just seconds remaining. However, with time running out, Mike Conley was fouled by Anthony Davis to send him for the line for 3. Conley forced the game into overtime, where the Lakers were able to get back to a 106-102 victory, completing their playoff push, securing the 7 seed in the west.

Tonight, battles between the 9/10 take place where the winners advance to play either the Heat or T-Wolves for a chance at the final spot in the playoffs. The Bulls and Raptors face off for what looks like to be a high intensity game. After splitting the regular season series, not much separates these two teams, but play-in Patrick Beverly is a force to be reckoned with, especially with an opportunity to get his team into the playoffs. Over in the west, the Pelicans and Thunder face off, winner playing the T-Wolves for a chance at the playoffs. Neither of these three teams should scare Nuggets fans who will inevitably face the survivor in the first round. That being said, my favorites to make it in as the 8-seed for the east are the Bulls, as their high energy playstyle matches up well against the Raptors and have already swept the Heat this season. For the west, the dynamic duo of Brandon Ingram and CJ McCollom have potential to lead their team past the Thunder and the disheartened Timberwolves, after a fight broke out between teammates including starting center Rudy Gobert, causing him to not travel with the team.

Game 82

Game 82 is often an overlooked game by fans of the league, but this game is where some of the craziest performances happen. By this time, few teams have anything to play for, leaving most teams to rest the starters to either stay healthy for playoffs or tank. Reserves from across the league that barely anyone has ever heard of get their chance to shine. This year, game 82 was highlighted by performances from Udonis Haslem, Kenny Lofton Jr., Payton Pritchard, Mac McClung, and a fight between teammates. The 42-year old, Udonis Haslem, put up 24 points in his final regular season game for the Heat. Kenny Lofton Jr, made famous for his 276 lb stature and playstyle for Louisiana Tech, was called up from the G-league to the Grizzlies where he scored a career high 42 points with 14 rebounds in a loss to the Thunder. Oregon Alumn Payton Pritchard put up a 30 point triple double for the Celtics. Slam dunk contest champion and G-league star, Mac McClung scored a career high 20 points, 9 rebounds, and 9 assists in the 76ers win, one of his few real NBA games of his career. Finally the night was capped off  with a fight between Rudy Gobert and Kyle Anderson, teammates on the Timberwolves during a timeout in a game they won. Punches thrown by Rudy Gobert resulted in him getting sent home and suspended by the T-Wolves, leaving him unable to participate in play-in games. This season’s game 82, highlighted by forgettable players, was surely one to remember.

Wembenyama Odds

With the regular season now concluded, fans of bad teams are filled with hope as they eagerly anticipate the lottery and draft. The projected first pick, Victor Wembenyama, is an outstanding prospect with generational talent that holds GOAT potential according to many critics. Wembenyama currently plays in France’s top league, and continues to show promise and impress fans across the globe. As it stands, the Pistons have the worst record, but by lottery rules are in a 3-way tie for the top pick with the Spurs and Rockets, each holding a 14% chance at the coveted Victor Wembenyama. After the Mavericks’ failed Kyrie Irving trade, they also fall into the lottery with the 10th best odds, giving Wembenyama a 31% chance to end up in Texas. Charlotte and Portland land just outside the top 3 with decent chances at the first pick still. Overall, the Pistons have a great chance to build the super team of the future, loaded young talent.