We waited until the last minutes of the last day of the Regular Season, but the Western Conference has finally reached the Play-In and Playoffs. In order of qualification for the seventh and eighth places, the teams are Lakers, Timberwolves, Pelicans, and Thunder.
The West Play-In (here you can find the Preview of the East Conference Play-In) reflects the entire conference: there are extremely strong and evenly matched teams, who could easily compete for a spot in the next round in a 7-game series with practically anyone.
Los Angeles Lakers Vs Minnesota Timberwolves
For completeness of the roster and form, it is undeniable that the Lakers will be the favorites: LeBron James and Anthony Davis, with the experience they have, cannot wait to overcome the hurdle of the T’Wolves to earn a series against the Memphis Grizzlies, who are without their starting big men and would be evenly matched; let’s also add that Coach Finch’s team deliberately committed hara-kiri, with the public feud between Gobert and Anderson that may have blown up a dressing room that was already delicate in itself, although the beautiful victory against the Pelicans could bury the issue faster than expected.
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Oklahoma City Thunder Vs New Orleans Pelicans
NOLA, on the other hand, will face the Cinderella OKC, who have done so well this season, despite the average age of just 22. Zion Williamson will certainly be missed, but Coach Willie Green’s team has almost an obligation to overcome Shai and his teammates, and then play their last chances in the playoff.
Between these two teams, however, a beautiful and lively game is expected, with high scores that will highlight the ‘others’: the usual 30-point performances by Ingram and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander will not be enough, as it will be the supporting cast and defensive maneuvers for both teams that will really shift the balance.
The games are scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday nights, respectively for Lakers-Timberwolves and Pelicans-Thunder, while the playoff for the eighth place, between the loser of the first game and the winner of the second, will take place on the night between Friday and Saturday.