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  • Eric Martinez

Number 10 seeds make history in NBA play-in tournament


The NBA is now in the era of the play-in tournament that gives the 7 through 10 seed an opportunity to compete for a playoff berth. The number 10 seed has never won a game in the play-in tournament to advance to the next level competing with the losing team of the 7 vs. 8 seed game. Wednesday night changed the landscape of the play-in tournament. Chicago Bulls have been depleted with multiple injuries all year long.


Two players have been consistent all year for Chicago and they both stepped up in an elimination game. Zach LaVine led the Bulls with 39 points in addition to DeMar DeRozan adding 23 points in his return to Toronto where he began his career. Ultimately, the difference came down to free-throw percentages where the Bulls shot 81.8% contrasting a 50% shot by Toronto including missing key points left during crunch time. Raptors missed 18 free throws in addition to 16 turnovers. Chicago Bulls head coach, Billy Donovan, was pleased with the energy that his team displayed and the caliber of play from his stars.


In regard to Zach LaVine, Donovan stated, “His performance was extraordinary. It gave us life and it gave us hope.” Bulls now will travel to Miami to play the Heat with the number 8 seed for the playoffs on the line on Friday. Bulls were 3-0 in 3 games vs. Miami this year including 2 wins on the road. For the Raptors, multiple questions will arise regarding coaching, and addressing key free agents. An active offseason is expected in Toronto, as the Raptors will need to address several components to add to the lineup helping them secure a playoff spot in 2023-2024.


Oklahoma City Thunder has a bright future in terms of first-round draft picks for the next 5 years. It is said that the Thunder are ahead of schedule. With their first-round pick being sidelined all year, Chet Holmgren, OKC has had multiple players step up to secure the 10 seed in the west. First time all-star, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, has been consistent all year and will likely earn votes for NBA All first-team or at least NBA All second team. His second half performance was one for the ages. He ended shooting 11 of 22 from the field with 32 points. More importantly, he understood the assignment to defer to the hot hand of the night. That player was Josh Giddey. The third-year guard distributed the ball with 10 assists, in addition to his 31 points and 1 rebound shy of a triple-double (9 rebounds). When Giddey is aggressive, the Thunder are a team that can knock down open shots and have players that can finish at the rim or take advantage of free-throws. Lu Dort added 27 points, but his defense on Brandon Ingram was crucial late in the game forcing turnovers. Ingram was unstoppable with 30 points for the Pelicans but did not have another teammate over 20 points.


The Pelicans were without several key players due to injury including Jose Alverado and Zion Williamson. Thunder advance to now take on the Minnesota Timberwolves for the final playoff spot on the line in the Western Conference on Friday. As expected, Oklahoma City are playing with house money and can enter the game calm and relaxed because many predicted the Thunder to sit on bottom of Western Conference this year. OKC is not only ahead of schedule, but it has a fighting chance to secure a playoff spot against all odds.

The NBA now has seen history happen in one night. Both number 10 seeds have won and advanced to play in the final elimination game (Western and Eastern conference) of the season.


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