With the NBA’s 82-game marathon regular season complete, all eyes now shift to the NBA play-in odds board. And although no one will be eliminated from the postseason at the conclusion of Tuesday’s two contests, the winners will gain automatic entry into the playoffs.
As for Tuesday’s two losers? They’ll be pushed to elimination games Friday.
The Eastern Conference tips things off Tuesday, as the No. 7 seed Brooklyn Nets are laying big points at home against the No. 8 Cleveland Cavaliers. The winner advances to take on the No. 2 Boston Celtics in a first-round series starting this weekend. The loser faces the winner of Wednesday’s game between No. 9 Atlanta and No. 10 Charlotte in a winner-take-all clash Friday, for the right to play the top-seeded Miami Heat.
Following Nets-Cavaliers on Tuesday, the scene shifts to the Western Conference, where the No. 7 seed Minnesota Timberwolves take the court as a short home chalk against the No. 8 Los Angeles Clippers. The winner advances to meet the No. 2 Memphis Grizzlies in a first-round series. The loser takes on either No. 9 New Orleans or No. 10 San Antonio on Friday, for the chance to play the Phoenix Suns, who finished with the NBA’s best regular-season record.
Season series: Brooklyn went 3-1 SU/2-2 ATS against the Cavaliers during the regular season. In the most recent matchup Friday, the Nets rallied from a five-point deficit to start the fourth quarter and won 118-107, covering as an 8.5-point home favorite. The other three clashes occurred before Brooklyn traded former MVP guard James Harden to Philadelphia. The first two Nets-Cavaliers contests topped the posted total, while the latter two stayed Under.
Did you know: Despite being in the play-in tournament, the Nets are still the third choice at DraftKings to win the NBA title at +600, behind only the Phoenix Suns (+260) and Milwaukee Bucks (+500). The Cavaliers are making their first postseason appearance since 2018, when LeBron James led Cleveland to the NBA Finals for a fourth consecutive season.
About Cleveland: The Cavaliers fell into the play-in tournament after slumping badly down the stretch. Since Feb. 12, Cleveland is 9-17 SU and 8-17-1 ATS. The Cavs lost five of six before romping to a 133-115 victory over Milwaukee as an 8.5-point home favorite Sunday, with the Bucks resting their key players. Rookie of the Year favorite Evan Mobley played in the final two regular-season contests, averaging 17.5 points and 8.5 rebounds, after missing five consecutive games with a sprained left ankle. The Cavaliers are 44-37-1 to the Under for the season but have gone 16-9-1 to the Over during their slump.
About Brooklyn: The Nets won four straight to finish the season (2-2 ATS) and secure home-court advantage for the play-in games. Brooklyn is 6-3 SU but only 3-6 ATS since March 24, when guard Kyrie Irving was cleared to play at home after New York amended its COVID-19 vaccination mandate. To that point in the season, Irving had played in only 20 games, all on the road. The perennial All-Star is averaging 27.2 points, 4.3 rebounds and 5.8 assists while shooting 41.2 percent from 3-point range in his limited court time. The Nets are only 20-21 SU and an NBA-worst 10-30-1 ATS at home this season. However, Irving sat out most of those games. The Nets have gone 7-2 to the Under in their past nine to nearly break even on totals for the season (41-40-1 to the Under).