When do the NBA playoffs start in 2021? Key dates, schedule, updated standings & more to know

When do the NBA playoffs start in 2021? Key dates, schedule, updated standings & more to know

The 2021 NBA playoffs are almost here. While tankers hope to land Oklahoma State star Cade Cunningham with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, playoff contenders are ready to fight for the Larry O’Brien trophy.

The postseason fields in each conference are set heading into the final day of the regular season, though the playoff seedings are very much still up for grabs. The play-in tournament has clearly served its intended purpose, adding a new level of intrigue and drama down the stretch.

NBA STANDINGS: Seeding scenarios, breakdown for playoff spots

Here’s everything you need to know about the 2021 NBA playoffs, including the play-in tournament schedule.

When do the NBA playoffs start in 2021?

  • Play-in tournament: May 18-21
  • NBA playoffs: May 22

The 2021 NBA play-in tournament will begin on Tuesday, May 18. The first round of the 2021 NBA playoffs will start four days later on Saturday, May 22.

July 22 is the latest possible date for an NBA Finals game.

How will the NBA playoffs work?

  • The play-in tournament will be held after the conclusion of the 2020-21 regular season and before the start of the first round of the 2021 NBA playoffs. The teams that finish Nos. 1-6 in the standings of each conference will be guaranteed playoff spots. Teams Nos. 7-10 will enter the play-in tournament.
  • Each conference’s Nos. 7 and 8 teams will face off, with the winner earning the No. 7 seed in the playoffs. The loser will still have one more opportunity to reach the playoffs.
  • Each conference’s Nos. 9 and 10 teams will face off, with the winner advancing to play the loser of the No. 7-vs.-No. 8 game. The loser of the No. 9-vs.-No. 10 game will be eliminated from playoff contention.
  • The loser of the No. 7-vs.-No. 8 game and the winner of the No. 9-vs.-No. 10 game will then play against each other. The winner of that game will be the No. 8 seed in the playoffs. The loser will be eliminated from playoff contention.
  • Beyond the play-in tournament, the 2021 NBA playoffs will follow the typical format, with full best-of-seven series all the way through the NBA Finals.

NBA playoff schedule 2021

May 18

Game (play-in) Time (ET) National TV
East No. 10 vs. East No. 9 TBD TNT
East No. 8 vs. No. 7 Celtics TBD TNT

May 19

Game (play-in) Time (ET) National TV
No. 10 Spurs vs. West No. 9 TBD ESPN
West No. 8 vs. West No. 7 TBD ESPN

May 20

Game (play-in) Time (ET) National TV
Game 1 Winner vs. Game 2 Loser TBD TNT

May 21

Game (play-in) Time (ET) National TV
Game 3 Winner vs.Game 4 Loser TBD ESPN

NBA standings 2021: Eastern Conference

Seed Team Record Games back
1. 76ers* 48-23
2. Nets* 47-24 1
3. Bucks* 45-25 2.5
4. Knicks* 40-31 8
5. Hawks* 40-31 8
6. Heat* 39-31 8.5
7. Celtics** 36-35 12
8. Hornets** 33-38 15
9. Wizards** 33-38 15
10. Pacers** 33-38 15
Bulls 30-41 18
Raptors 27-44 21
Cavaliers 22-49 26
Magic 21-50 27
Pistons 20-51 28

*clinched playoff berth
**clinched play-in berth
Eliminated from playoff contention: Bulls, Cavaliers, Magic, Pistons, Raptors

NBA standings 2021: Western Conference

Seed Team Record Games back
1. Jazz* 51-20
2. Suns* 50-21 1
3. Nuggets* 47-24 4
4. Clippers* 47-24 4
5. Mavericks* 42-29 9
6. Trail Blazers 41-30 10
7. Lakers 41-30 10
8. Warriors** 38-33 13
9. Grizzlies** 38-33 13
10. Spurs** 33-38 18
Pelicans 31-40 20
Kings 31-40 20
Timberwolves 22-49 29
Thunder 21-50 30
Rockets 17-54 34

*clinched playoff berth
**clinched play-in berth

Eliminated from playoff contention: Kings, Pelicans, Rockets, Thunder, Timberwolves

NBA playoff bracket 2021

(NBA)



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