Your One Stop Guide to the 2023 NBA Play-In Tournament

This series is called Sports Betting Lessons. And lots of lessons have been learned by tracking the NBA for two months. Being aware of trends that are developing. Understanding who teams are situationally. Having data back up what the eye test shows clearly.

For instance, anyone that has watched the NBA this year can attest that the Western Conference seems light years behind their cross-country counterpart. The first five seeds in the East are the first five teams in point differential – albeit in different order. But it’s also not the fairest statement either. The East is very top heavy for sure, but these teams get to beat each other up in the second round of the playoffs and the Eastern Conference Finals. While much of the teens are Western Conference teams only 8th seeded Minnesota is a negative point differential. Whereas the East has 6th seeded Brooklyn, 7th seeded Miami and 8th seeded Atlanta.

Point differential is not everything. Hardly any one piece of data can be. But when there’s an assortment throughout the playoff bracket it helps to crystallize who’s real and who’s not. Toronto is a 9th seed, in the play-in tournament needing two wins to secure the last seed in the East. They’re 10th in point differential, ahead of the likes of top-seeded Denver, Cinderella darlings Sacramento and 5th seeded LA Clippers out West. Even Chicago, their opponents in the 9 vs 10 game, have been impressive as the 12th ranked team in point differential. Despite flaws in each, they seem more put together than the three teams ahead of them in the Eastern Conference.

Let’s get to each game of the play-in as well as what might go down in the game for the 8th seed in each conference.

Eastern Conference Play-In

MIA -18 PD; 27 gm (10-17 ATS, 17-10 O/U) vs ATL 46 PD; 27 gm (12-15 ATS, 15-12 O/U)

It pains me to pick a team here. I want both to lose. Miami has been dogshit and inconsistent all year and NOW want to play basketball. Atlanta has had Roy Woods featuring Drake DRAMA all year long too – including rumors they’re open to shopping Trae Young. I don’t take either seriously. Atlanta has looked better as a home favorite 8 covers in 15 home favorite contests versus 5 in 12 for Miami. And Atlanta has a slight edge in road underdogs 3 covers in 5 compared to 2 covers in 5. Miami opened as a 5.5 point favorite, and it’s at 5 now. I’m taking Atlanta with the points now and may sprinkle on the ML too. Even if Miami makes it out, I’m not a believer.

TOR 89 PD; 27 gm (14-12-1 ATS, 14-11-2 O/U) vs CHI 79 PD; 28 gm (14-14 ATS, 12-16 O/U)

This is the game I’m excited for. Toronto has been exceptional as a home team. Since tracking they’ve covered 9 of 14 home favorite games and haven’t been a home underdog. Very much so a testament to the North LOL. Chicago is a great dog too though. 4 covers in 5 away favorite games and 4 covers in 9 away underdog games. Toronto is currently a 5 point favorite, stay tuned to the What You Expect page for a play but I’ll be too interested to take a side. Look for an under as both teams fight it out passionately in a lose and go home scenario.


At this moment I like the winner of Toronto-Chicago to beat the 7 vs 8 loser – which I think will be Atlanta. Who would leak right before a play-in tournament that the team is listening to offers on the dude you need to ball out the most???? Send these boys packing for Central America pronto.

Western Conference Play-In

LAL 118 PD; 27 gm (15-12 ATS, 13-14 O/U) vs MIN -14 PD; 26 gm (13-13 ATS, 12-14 O/U)

Can I be real with you? I would’ve loved Minnesota’s chances in this game had they not went and shot themselves in the foot. The negative point differential tells a story for a reason. This team is talented enough, I mean look they’re in the play-in game as the 8 seed. And what do you expect of a negative point differential squad? Punching your teammate and getting suspended in the last game of the regular season. Punching some immovable object and breaking your hand during the last game of the regular season. The Lakers have battled to get to this point – it’s been overly documented really. As much as losing at home to this dysfunctional mess would warm my Laker hating heart, they can’t let that happen. Covering the spread might be lofty but Lakers ML is a sound play.

NO 46 PD; 26 gm (13-12-1 ATS, 7-19 O/U) vs OKC 38 PD; 28 gm (12-16 ATS, 14-13-1 O/U)

These are two teams I’ve been impressed with throughout my tracking. New Orleans was a heavy negative point differential team up there with Portland, San Antonio and Houston. Then they hopped up out of the basement and now they’re here. It’s sad because we’d all love to see Zion in general but definitely on a playoff stage.

Nevertheless, this is a young squad learning how to get the job done. What better way to do it than coming out of this play-in tournament? Standing in their way is a fiesty Thunder team. With all the chatting SGA has been doing and the arrival of one of the Jalen Williams’ they have on the team, they’re going to have to lay it all out to even make it to face the 7 vs 8 loser. The Pels have 19 unders in 26 games so that has to be my play.


Assuming it’s Lakers and Pelicans, I could actually see New Orleans pulling it out. Los Angeles has been beyond impressive with their last-minute push to get here. LeBron has LeBron’d. And you think he’s going to do that in the play-in too. I understand. We’ll see how I feel when we get there but right now I’m not ruling out the possibility.