The first year of the NBA’s new play-in tournament may go down as it’s best as the NBA has managed to get two of its top stars matched up in the 7-8 game out West. Early on Sunday, the Warriors beat the Grizzlies to lock in the 8-seed thanks to another sensational 46-point performance from Stephen Curry, who locked down the NBA scoring title early in the game himself. All that was left was to determine whether the Lakers or Blazers would be their opponent in the first play-in game.
With the Blazers dominating a Denver team with nothing to play for on Sunday in a 132-116 win, the Lakers were officially locked into the 7-seed in the West despite beating the Pelicans in New Orleans thanks to the Blazers earning the tiebreaker over L.A. this season. What that sets up is a LeBron James vs. Stephen Curry matchup that the NBA and ESPN, which has the West play-in games this year, have to be salivating over.
The two have met numerous times in high stakes games in the past, including in four straight Finals from 2015-2018, but this time rather than a series, the two will have one game to decide who takes the 7-seed to face the Phoenix Suns in the first round. The rest of the West playoff standings are also set, with the Clippers out-tanking everyone to get themselves to the 4-seed, where they’ll get a rematch from last year’s first round with Dallas. L.A. lost to the Rockets and Thunder in succession, a nearly impossible task but one they pulled off, making sure they avoided the Lakers in the first round should there have been some shenanigans with the Nuggets and Blazers finale. Denver and Portland will meet once again in a playoff series, as they produced a classic series in 2019, while the Jazz took down the 1-seed and will await the winner of the second play-in game later in the week.
Here is how the West seeding finished up:
1. Utah Jazz
2. Phoenix Suns
3. Denver Nuggets
4. L.A. Clippers
5. Dallas Mavericks
6. Portland Trail Blazers
7. L.A. Lakers
8. Golden State Warriors
9. Memphis Grizzlies
10. San Antonio Spurs
The first round of the West play-in games will be Wednesday night on ESPN, with Spurs-Grizzlies at 7:30 p.m. ET and Warriors-Lakers at 10 p.m. ET.