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NBA Playoffs Begin Today, August 17th

Basketball

The NBA gave us two weeks of seeding games that literally no one asked for, but now that the snoozefest is over, it’s time for the good part: playoffs!

August 17, 2020
KEVIN C. COX/USA TODAY
KEVIN C. COX/USA TODAY

The GIST: The NBA gave us two weeks of seeding games that literally no one asked for, but now that the snoozefest is over, it’s time for the good part: playoffs!

Finally!: You said it. But first, the much-anticipated Western Conference play-in “tournament” (air quotes because it was actually just one game) had to happen. The No. 9 Memphis Grizzlies had to win against the No. 8 Portland Trail Blazers in Saturday’s game to force a deciding Game 2 on Sunday...but they lost, so the Trail Blazers locked up the last available playoff spot.

And how do the playoffs work?: Sixteen teams will take part — eight in each conference — and teams are seeded based on their regular season record plus their seeding round record.

  • There are four rounds in the postseason, and all rounds feature best-of-seven series. Unlike the NHL, teams won’t be reseeded after the first round and will stick to their tried-and-true bracket format.
  • Games start today at 1:30 p.m. ET, and we’ll have the opportunity to watch four games per day for at least the next week. Check out the full schedule and playoff bracket.

Who’s going to win?: In these unpredictable times, it’s anyone’s game, but if the LeBron James–led LA Lakers don’t at least put up a good fight, we’ll be shooketh. The best team from the West is expected to win it all, and we’re guessing they’ll meet up with the league-best Milwaukee Bucks in the final.

  • But until then, the first round features a few must-watch matchups: Dallas Mavericks versus LA Clippers (BTW, Clipper Kawhi Leonard is looking for his third NBA Championship, and second in two years) and Oklahoma City Thunder against Houston Rockets (so much talent in this one!).
  • Dark horses dinos to watch? The reigning champs Toronto Raptors who, without Kawhi, are sitting second in the Eastern Conference. Dangerous.