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Predictions and previews for the first round of the 2022 NBA Play-In tournament

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Our NBA Play-In predictions 2022 have arrived. The bracket is set, and we have the eight teams that’ll fight for the final four tickets to the postseason ready to roll.

NBA Play-In predictions 2022

While some still need to have the NBA Play-In tournament explained, it seems like this fun little experiment is here to stay.

Even though some think it’s kind of unfair, it’s been a huge success rating-wise, and it sure brings in some extra tension and emotion. Here, we share our picks and predictions of which teams will prevail.

Nets vs Cavaliers

The Brooklyn Nets are just too stacked with talent, and although the Cleveland Cavaliers’ size and rim protection will be a big hurdle to get by, they’re entering the play-in tournament riding some tough momentum. The Nets only need to win one of these games and the young Cavs lack the firepower to keep up with their scoring, especially without Collin Sexton.


While the Cavs are no pushovers and will compete hard until the very end, we expect their lack of experience to play against them at this stage. Other than Evan Mobley, they don’t have anyone who could match up with Kevin Durant, who was near the top of the NBA MVP rankings for the first half of the season. Also, Darius Garland can’t guard Kyrie Irving.

Hawks vs Hornets

This matchup will be the ultimate shootout. Neither of these teams plays any sort of defense and they both can push up the pace like the best of them. That Trae Young vs LaMelo Ball matchup will be must-watch television and promises to bring countless highlights.

The Hornets have been nearly the same team on the road and at home. They’ve beaten great teams and then been completely outplayed by bottom-feeders, so they’re perhaps the most unpredictable squad in the play-in tournament. Then again, we still like their chances to pull off the upset here, as losing John Collins all but doomed the Hawks’ chances. Unfortunately, though, the Hornets won’t be able to beat the Cavs and will still miss the playoffs.

Timberwolves vs Clippers

The Timberwolves showed a new-found will to compete and play hard that we hadn’t seen in the Karl-Anthony Towns era. Even KAT has been more physical, hasn’t shied away from contact, and is playing the best defense of his career. Anthony Edwards is a superstar in the making and they’re hungry and ready to prove their worth.


The Clippers, on the other hand, are the ultimate scrappy team. They play hard and will get everything out of the mud, regardless of who’s suiting up. But with Paul George still getting his legs back under him and the Timberwolves rolling right now, we expect the Clippers to end as the 8th seed and have to play another game to secure a playoff berth.

Pelicans vs Spurs

Adding CJ McCollum sure did wonders for Willie Green‘s team. He brought back some life into the Pelicans’ stagnant offense and has meshed perfectly next to Jonas Valanciunas and Brandon Ingram. Herb Jones has quietly been one of the best defenders in the league, and the Pelicans have been better than expected since the All-Star Break.

Somehow, someway, the Spurs made their way to the play-in tournament after a terrible start to the season. Dejounte Murray has played at an elite level all year long, and their defense has made up for their lack of shooting. Even so, we expect the Pelicans to finish the job and give Zion Williamson a shot to suit up for the game against the Clippers. Eventually, though, they’ll fail to make the playoffs anyway.

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