Preview and Predictions for the 2022 NBA Play-In Tournament

| April 11, 2022 12:58 pm PDT
NBA Play-In Tournament logo, NBA background, NBA players

The 2021-22 NBA regular season is over, and it’s time to shift our focus to the NBA playoffs. Everyone wants to see who will win the NBA Finals, but we have business to settle first.

The NBA playoffs will begin with the play-in tournament for the second straight season. Four teams from each conference will battle for the final two spots in their respective conference.

There’s a lot to know about the NBA play-in tournament. We’ll go over it all, ending with my 2022 NBA play-in tournament prediction. Here is my NBA play-in tournament guide.

Where to Bet on the 2022 NBA Play-In Tourney

The best NBA betting sites have been on top of updating NBA odds throughout the season. These sites will be the place to see the 2022 NBA play-in tournament odds. I would advise you to shop around because one site could provide better value.

As always, it’s important to do a little research before placing your bets. Bettors should never wager if they don’t trust a site. These sites should be a good option for NBA play-in tournament betting.

Now, you can’t bet on the NBA play-in tournament without knowing what it entails. Let’s check out the key details.

Key Details for the 2022 Play-In Tournament

NBA Playoffs Logo

The NBA implemented a play-in tournament for the 2020-21 season. It resulted from a shorter regular season, but the NBA decided to bring it back for the full 82-game season in 2021-22. Let’s talk about how the NBA play-in tournament works.

The NBA play in tournament 2022 format features the 7-10 seeds in the Eastern and Western Conferences. The No. 7 and No. 8 seed will face off, with the winner advancing to the NBA playoffs to play the No. 2 seed in their respective conference.

Then, the loser will play the winner of the No. 9 vs. No. 10 matchup. The winner of that game will face the No. 1 seed in the playoffs. Take a look at the matchups.

Eastern Conference

  • No. 8 Cleveland Cavaliers vs. No. 7 Brooklyn Nets
  • No. 10 Charlotte Hornets vs. No. 9 Atlanta Hawks

Western Conference

  • No. 8 LA Clippers vs. No. 7 Minnesota Timberwolves
  • No. 10 San Antonio Spurs vs. No. 9 New Orleans Pelicans

Now, let’s move on to the NBA play-in tournament schedule. The Cavaliers vs. Nets will kick off the play-in tournament on TNT Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET. Tuesday night will conclude with the Clippers vs. Timberwolves on TNT.

We shift over to ESPN for Wednesday night’s slate. The Hornets vs. Hawks begin the night at 7 p.m. ET, while the Pelicans will host the Spurs at 9:30 p.m. ET. The winner of each matchup will play the loser of Tuesday’s games on Friday night.

Now that we’ve established the format and schedule, check out my NBA play-in tournament preview.

Latest 2022 NBA Play-In Tournament Odds

The NBA play-in tournament will feature eight teams vying for four playoff spots. Let’s check out the 2022 NBA play-in tournament odds.

Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Brooklyn Nets

  • Cleveland Cavaliers (+8.0) -110
  • Brooklyn Nets (-8.0) -110
  • Cavaliers to Win (+290)
  • Nets to Win (-380)
  • Over 230 (-110)
  • Under 230 (-110)

This matchup features two teams that probably didn’t expect to be in the play-in tournament. The Brooklyn Nets were a big disappointment as many expected them to have the best record in the Eastern Conference. They recovered from a 3-17 stretch to finish No. 7 in the Eastern Conference.

Before the season, an appearance in the NBA playoffs 2022 play-in tournament would’ve been great for the Cleveland Cavaliers. However, it’s a disappointing result after spending much of the season in the top five of the Eastern Conference.

The primary reason for the Nets’ downfall was Kevin Durant’s injury. However, he returned in early March and has been great since the all-star break.

Kevin Durant
  • 31.7 points
  • 7.2 rebounds
  • 7.1 assists
  • 42.1 three-point percentage

Durant has been great all season, but the Cavaliers have a star of their own in Darius Garland. The third-year guard averaged 25.5 points and 10.1 assists since the all-star break. He and Kyrie Irving should have a fun duel.

Brooklyn picked up an 11-point victory over Cleveland on April 8. Durant and Garland were the only players to clear 20 points in that matchup. I’d take note of those players for your 2022 NBA play-in tournament prediction.

LA Clippers vs. Minnesota Timberwolves

  • LA Clippers (+2.5) -110
  • Minnesota Timberwolves (-2.5) -110
  • Clippers to Win (+120)
  • Timberwolves to Win (-140)
  • Over 231 (-110)
  • Under 231 (-110)

The Minnesota Timberwolves have been one of the bigger surprises of the season. Some people saw them as a sleeper, but a 46-win season? I’d say they exceeded expectations.

It’s interesting to look at the latest 2022 NBA Finals odds because the LA Clippers have much better odds than Minnesota. However, Minnesota is the favorite in this matchup. Could that have to do with a potential Kawhi Leonard return?

I know the Timberwolves have been the surprise team, but I’ve impressed with Ty Lue.

He kept the Clippers in playoff contention without their two best players for much of the season. His 42-40 record doesn’t scream Coach of the Year, but it’s hard to find a coach that has done more with less.

LA may have played most of the season without their stars, but a few key players have returned. Paul George and Norman Powell returned after missing extended time. Their presence should play a significant factor in your play in tournament NBA predictions.

The Clippers won three of the four games against the Timberwolves this season, but their last game was in early January. Minnesota is playing much better basketball. I’d value their recent play over their matchups against the Clippers.

Charlotte Hornets vs. Atlanta Hawks

  • Charlotte Hornets (+4.5) -110
  • Atlanta Hawks (-4.5) -110
  • Hornets to Win (+165)
  • Hawks to Win (-195)
  • Over 239.0 (-110)
  • Under 239.0 (-110)

A pair of Southeast teams will face off in the NBA play-in tournament. The Charlotte Hornets improved their record, but they’re the No. 10 seed for the second straight season. The Atlanta Hawks overcame a disappointing start to make the play-in tournament.

These two teams split the season series, but the Hawks earned the No. 9 seed because their 9-7 division record edged the Hornets’ 8-8 mark.

Charlotte picked up a 10-point victory over Atlanta on March 16. That’s the only time they’ve played in the last two and a half months.

Unfortunately, Charlotte will be without one of their key contributors as Gordan Hayward will miss the game with a foot injury. Taking note of injuries is key for advanced basketball betting strategy.

LaMelo Ball is the obvious candidate to lead the Hornets, but I have my eye on Miles Bridges. Bridges is averaging 21.1 points on 40.2 percent three-point shooting since the all-star break. He had 30+ points in Charlotte’s first two matchups with Atlanta. He failed to crack 20 points in the last two games.

This should be a high-scoring matchup, as both teams average over 113 points. Can either defense step up?

San Antonio Spurs vs. New Orleans Pelicans

  • San Antonio Spurs (+5.0) -110
  • New Orleans Pelicans (-5.0) -110
  • Spurs to Win (+180)
  • Pelicans to Win (-220)
  • Over 230..5 (-110)
  • Under 230.5 (-110)

I can’t imagine many people saw this matchup coming. The New Orleans Pelicans had a 1-12 start, and people didn’t view them as a playoff team. Zion Williamson has missed the entire season, but they made a big move to acquire CJ McCollum.

He won’t make the list of the biggest NBA trade deadline deals ever, but we can’t understate his impact. Check out his numbers in 25 games with the Pelicans.

CJ McCollum
  • 25.2 points
  • 6.0 assists
  • 4.6 rebounds
  • 1.4 steals
  • 39.9 three-point percentage

The Los Angeles Lakers collapse allowed the Pelicans to make the NBA playoff play-in tournament, but how far would they make it without McCollum? The 2022 NBA play-in tournament predictions probably wouldn’t have had them winning.

The San Antonio Spurs never made a playoff run, but they played solid basketball while the Lakers collapsed. They’re in the play-in tournament for the second straight season.

Surprisingly, the road team has won the last three games between the Spurs and Pelicans. New Orleans beat San Antonio by 31 points on March 18. Eight days later, the Spurs captured a four-point victory.

It’ll be interesting to see how the NBA play-in tournament picks to go for this matchup.

Best Bets for the NBA Play-In Tournament in 2022

  • Cavaliers vs. Nets Under 230 (-110)
  • Clippers to Win (+120)
  • Hawks to Win By 3-6 Points (+500)
  • Pelicans (-5.5) (-110)

Bettors can find the NBA play-in tournament best bets at Bovada.

We’ll start with the first matchup between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Brooklyn Nets. The Nets have a top 10 offense, but Cleveland has allowed the third-fewest points in the Eastern Conference.

Brooklyn has had success against Cleveland, but none of their games cleared 230 points. I should warn you that three of their games cleared 220 points. Still, I’m confident this won’t be anything more than a 116-109 game.

The LA Clippers might be the underdog in this matchup, but I think they’re the better team. Check out Paul George’s numbers since returning from an elbow injury.

  • 22.6 points
  • 6.8 assists
  • 5.6 rebounds
  • 2.8 steals
  • 52.5 three-point percentage

His presence puts the Clippers over the top. I expect the sportsbooks to adjust the spread because the Clippers should be the favorite.

I’m taking a different approach with my best bet for the Charlotte Hornets vs. Atlanta Hawks. The spread is (-4.5) at (-110) odds. However, you can bet on the Hawks winning by 3-6 points for (+500). I love the value of this prop.

I’m not expecting a blowout, but Atlanta has the upper hand. This seems like the best value selection for the NBA play-in tournament.

Lastly, I’m going with the New Orleans Pelicans to cover the (-5.5) point spread. New Orleans has looked much better lately, but I haven’t seen the same from the San Antonio Spurs. CJ McCollum and Brandon Ingram should lead the Pelicans to a big win.

Predictions for the 2022 Play-In Tourney

  • Nets Over Cavaliers
  • Clippers Over Timberwolves
  • Hawks Over Hornets
  • Pelicans Over Spurs

Will any of these teams join the list of surprise NBA Finals winners? Probably not, but we can still predict the winner of each matchup.

The Brooklyn Nets have been trending in the right direction, while the Cleveland Cavaliers aren’t playing well. Kyrie Irving’s return is significant for Brooklyn’s playoff chances. They should be able to pick up their second victory over Cleveland in the last week.

My lone upset of the play-in tournament has the LA Clippers over the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Clippers are much better than the team that finished No. 8 in the Western Conference.

NBA logo
Minnesota has been great this season, but can they compete with a Clippers team at near full strength?

Honestly, I don’t think there’s a big difference between the Atlanta Hawks and Charlotte Hornets. Each team must be at full strength, but Charlotte is without Gordon Hayward. I’m expecting a big game from Trae Young, leading Atlanta to a victory.

The San Antonio Spurs weren’t exactly surging late in the season. They made the play-in tournament because of the Los Angeles Lakers collapse. The New Orleans Pelicans surged into contention. I expect their playoff push to continue.

Those results would lead to these matchups for the No. 8 seed.

  • Hawks vs. Cavaliers
  • Pelicans vs. Timberwolves

Cleveland has done a great job exceeding expectations, but I believe Atlanta will end their season. Atlanta is another team that is better than their record. They’ve been playing their best basketball lately.

Minnesota might not be able to hold onto the No. 7 seed, but they should take down New Orleans. Their big three of Karl Anthony-Towns, Anthony Edwards, and D’Angelo Russell is too much for the Pelicans to handle.

Betting on the NBA Play-In Tournament in 2022

This NBA play-in tournament preview should give you a better idea of how to bet on the play-in tournament. Four teams from each conference will battle for the final two spots in the playoffs. Their reward is a matchup with the best teams in the NBA.


I’d recommend looking at recent matchups between these teams and how they closed the season. The latter was a big talking point for my confidence in the Brooklyn Nets and Atlanta Hawks.

Bettors know the top sites to place their bets, but what about mobile betting? Our top NBA betting apps will give you the best place to bet on the play-in tournament on your phone.

Nicholas Sterling
Nicholas Sterling

Nicholas has been a Sports Writer with since May 2021. He has a rich sports background, writing about NASCAR, NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, Golf, etc. Nick is always ready for a new challenge.

He enjoys rooting on D.C. sports teams, including the Commanders, Wizards, and Capitals.

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