NBA

How Saturday's results impacted the playoff race in the Eastern and Western Conference

At the beginning of the season, the NBA board of governors agreed to introduce a Play-In Tournament to the 2021 postseason.

Prior to the traditional 16-team playoff bracket beginning, the 7th ranked team will face the 8th ranked team to earn the No. 7 seed. Then, the 9th ranked team will face the 10th ranked team. The loser of the Seven-Eight game will host the winner of the Nine-Ten game with the winner of that matchup claiming the No. 8 seed.

With the standings getting tight heading into the final weeks of the season, let's take a look at how Saturday night's results impacted the race for Play-In seeds.

New York Knicks 120, Toronto Raptors 103


Make that nine wins in a row for the New York Knicks.

Julius Randle continues to get buckets, scoring a game-high 31 points and 10 rebounds, while RJ Barrett added 25 points and 10 rebounds

Meanwhile, the Raptors, were led by the trio of OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet, who combined to score 80 points in the game.

What it means:

The Knicks improve to 34-27 on the season and now hold a 0.5 game lead on the Atlanta Hawks for the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference as they look to secure their first postseason appearance since 2013. Next up is a tough test against the high-flying Phoenix Suns, before games against the Bulls, Rockets and Grizzlies.

For the Raptors, their chances of making the Play-In tournament take a hit as they fall to 25-35 on the season, tied with the Chicago Bulls, 1.5 games back of the Washington Wizards for the 10th and final spot.

San Antonio Spurs 110, New Orleans Pelicans 108


The Spurs held on to survive in a thriller against the Pelicans, picking up a valuable win on the road.

A clutch jumper from DeMar DeRozan and a pair of free throws from Dejounte Murray iced the win for San Antonio, overcoming a monster 33-point, 14-rebound performance from Zion Williamson, while Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball added 24 points apiece.

DeRozan led the Spurs with 32 points, eight assists and seven rebounds.

What it means:

The Spurs created even more distance between them and the 11th-seed Pelicans in the standings, now holding a 4.5 game lead.
With the win, they leapfrog the Golden State Warriors for the ninth seed in the West and close to within half a game of the Memphis Grizzlies for the eighth seed.

Indiana Pacers 115, Detroit Pistons 109


Missing Myles Turner (right toe plantar plate tear) and Domantas Sabonis (sore lower back), the Pacers held their nerve down the stretch to make it two wins in a row.

Malcolm Brogdon led the way with 26 points, eight rebounds and four assists, while Caris LeVert added 25 points and seven boards and Edmond Sumner 22 points.

What it means:

With the Washington Wizards rising up the standings on a seven-game win streak, the Pacers needed this win to keep their 2.0 game buffer in the ninth seed, while also closing the gap on the Charlotte Hornets, pulling to within 1.0 game of the eighth seed.

Miami Heat 106, Chicago Bulls 101


Here come the Miami Heat!

Leading by as many as 24 points and 17 heading into the fourth quarter, the Heat held off the Bulls' late rally to seal a valuable win as they look to climb out of the Play-In seeds.

Four players scored in double figures led by 23 points from Duncan Robinson and 22 points from Kendrick Nunn, while Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo came up with some clutch plays down the stretch as they both finished with 20 points apiece.

What it means:

The Bulls are now just half a game back of the Boston Celtics for the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference and will get another shot at the Bulls in their next game, the second of their back-to-back.

Meanwhile, the Bulls fall to 25-35 on the season, sitting 11th in the standings, 1.5 games back of the Wizards.

Dallas Mavericks 108, Los Angeles Lakers 93


The Mavs pulled off an impressive comeback win over the Lakers, outscoring them 62-35 in the second half.

Missing the injured Kristaps Porzingis, Dwight Powell poured in 25 points and nine rebounds, while Dorian Finney-Smith added 21 points and seven rebounds.

Despite a tough shooting night (6-of-15), Luka Doncic pulled the strings all night, finishing with 18 points, 13 assists and eight rebounds.

What it means:

The Mavericks move to 33-26 on the season and clinch the season series (2-1), now holding the tie-breaker over the fifth-seed Lakers. With the win, they're just 1.5 games back in the standings in the sixth-seed and now hold a 1.0 game lead over the Portland Trail Blazers and the Play-In seeds.

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