The end of the regular season left many expectations about the Play-In round. Here the details about the first two matchups of the NBA 2023 postseason.
Atlanta Falcons vs. Miami Heat
The first matchup of the night features No. 7 Miami against No. 8 Atlanta in the Eastern Conference. Miami, with a 44-38 record, is emerging as the favorite against Atlanta, whose 41-41 record shows a disadvantage.
Miami has two key players as possible absentees for this matchup. Kyle Lowry and Max Strus will be game-time decisions. On the other hand, Nikola Jovic is out for this game. For their part, Atlanta reports no injured players so they will be at full strength.
While the Heat enter as clear favorites at -205, having key absences will test the depth of their bench. Hopefully Atlanta will capitalize on this opportunity to pull off an upset.
Considering that the Falcons lost their last two games at the end of the regular season, and Miami won 4 of 5, No. 7 will be the one to advance to the next round. The good news for Atlanta is that they will have one more chance to advance to the next round.
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Minnesota Timberwolves
LeBron James and the Lakers take on the Timberwolves in the second game of Play-In Day. Los Angeles comes into this matchup ranked No. 7 in the Western Conference with a 43-39 record. Minnesota, meanwhile, comes in as the eighth-ranked team with a 42-40 mark.
The Lakers have an apparent overwhelming advantage with odds of -385. However, these odds could be seriously affected given the amount of injuries Los Angeles has. First, LeBron James and Anthony Davis are on the injured list, although they could be available for this matchup. In addition, D'Angelo Russell and Tristan Thompson are also on the injured list.
On the other hand, Minnesota reports Rudy Gobert and Jayden McDaniels on its injured list. Jaylen Nowell and Karl-Anthony Towns are also listed as possible for the matchup. A decision will be made at game time.
Based on the number of injuries on both sides, this matchup will be decided by the depth shown by each team. Considering the Los Angeles squad, their victory over Minnesota is at the door even with the absence of James. However, James will do his best to play given the importance of the game.
For Minnesota, a loss still leaves them with a chance to advance to the next round. Therefore, the Timberwolves should come prepared to play with everything.
Predictions for the First Day of the Play-In
The Miami Heat will seal their pass to the next round in a close game. Atlanta is on a bad streak so Miami could take advantage of this situation.
The Lakers will find a gutsy performance from James and company so they should have no trouble defeating the Timberwolves.