Play-in tournament starting off hot


Erik Drost | Wikimedia Commons

Matthew Ojeda

The 2023 NBA playoffs are in full effect and the battles for the seventh and eighth seeds in both the Eastern and Western conferences came down to the wire, setting a new tone for the playoffs.

In the East, Trae Young put up 25 points to lead the Atlanta Hawks to a 116-105 victory over the Miami Heat. The Heat did not go down without a fight with Kyle Lowry scoring 33 points off the bench, shooting 6/9 from three but it wasn’t enough in the end.

The Hawks travel to Boston to face the No. 2 seed Boston Celtics in the first round.

The Chicago Bulls outlasted the Toronto Raptors 109-105 in DeMar DeRozan’s playoff return to Toronto since they traded him in 2018. DeRozan put up 23 points, shooting 10/19 from the field; but Zack Lavine stole the show with 39 points, 28 coming in the second half. The Bulls then advanced to play the Heat for the eighth and final playoff spot.

The Heat was able to send the Bulls home with a 102-91 victory. Jimmy Butler led the charge with 31 points. Max Strus had himself a night, scoring 31 points while shooting 7/12 from three, including some big shots late in the fourth quarter. The Heat now have a date set with the No. 1 seed Milwaukee Bucks.

Out in the West, The Los Angeles Lakers were able to clinch the seventh seed with a 108-102 overtime win against the Minnesota Timberwolves. LeBron James finished with a double-double, notching 30 points and 10 rebounds alongside Anthony Davis’s 24 points and 15 rebounds.

Dennis Schröder hit some big shots late in the game, including the two free throws that iced the game in overtime. The Lakers are now set to face Ja Morant and the No. 2 seed Memphis Grizzlies, while the Timberwolves are set to face the winner of the Thunder-Pelicans game in order to keep their playoff hopes alive.

The Oklahoma City Thunder pulled off the upset with a 123-118 win over the New Orleans Pelicans, ending their season despite Brandon Ingram’s 30 points. Josh Giddey balled out finishing with 31 points, 10 assists and 9 rebounds.

Their victory was short-lived as they lost to the Minnesota Timberwolves 120-95 a few days later, ending their season. Karl Anthony-Towns put the Timberwolves on his back, dropping 28 points and 11 rebounds. The Timberwolves clinch the eighth seed and advance to face the No. 1 seed Denver Nuggets led by reigning MVP Nikola Jokic.

This is only the beginning. It’s playoff time: it’s time to see who can win it all.