NBA Play-In Tournament Tips Off on TNT, ESPN

LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers vs Utah Jazz
LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers will take on the Minnesota Timberwolves in the NBA’s first play-in round. (Image credit: Harry How/Getty Images)

The National Basketball Association will begin its play-in tournament Tuesday night (April 11) as eight teams look to secure their ticket to the first round of the league’s traditional playoffs bracket.

The play-in tournament, first introduced by the league during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, pits eight teams seeded seven through 10 after regular-season play from the Eastern and Western Conferences.

TNT on Tuesday will air the games between the seventh and eighth seeds in the Eastern Conference (Miami Heat-Atlanta Hawks) and the Western Conference (Los Angeles Lakers-Minnesota Timberwolves). The winner of each game automatically advances to the playoffs. 

One Wednesday, ESPN will televise the games between the ninth and 10th seeds in the East (Toronto Raptors-Chicago Bulls) and the West (New Orleans Pelicans-Oklahoma City Thunder). The loser of each game will automatically be eliminated from the playoffs. 

On Friday, TNT will air the game between the loser of Tuesday’s Miami-Atlanta contest and the winner of Wednesday’s Toronto-Chicago game.  ESPN will air the game between Tuesday’s Lakers-Minnesota loser and Wednesday’s New Orleans-Oklahoma City winner. The winners of each game will advance to the playoffs. 

The NBA is hoping to increase interest in its postseason with the play-in tournament. The league averaged 2.4 million viewers for last year’s four-game play-in round, according to published reports.

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.