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NBA playoffs 2021 – Experts’ predictions for play-in and Round 1


The 2021 NBA postseason officially tips off Tuesday with the play-in tournament followed by the first round of the playoffs on Saturday.

After a thrilling end of the regular season with seeds finally decided on the last day, the Charlotte Hornets and the Indiana Pacers will start things on Tuesday in the East, followed by the Washington Wizards and the Boston Celtics in the late game.

On Wednesday, the San Antonio Spurs will face the Memphis Grizzlies in the early game in the West, followed by the Golden State Warriors taking on the Los Angeles Lakers.

The winners of Wizards-Celtics and Warriors-Lakers will earn the No. 7 seed in their respective conferences, while the losers will face the winners of Hornets-Pacers and Spurs-Grizzlies on Thursday and Friday to compete for the No. 8 seed. Got all that? Good.

Will the defending champions go home early? How many sweeps will there be in the first round? What about historic upsets? Our experts make their predictions for every play-in game and every first-round matchup.

MORE: What to know for the 2021 playoffs | Full playoff schedule


Eastern Conference play-in: Game 1s

Jerry Bembry: Celtics

Nick DePaula: Celtics

Nick Friedell: Celtics

Kirk Goldsberry: Wizards

Tim Legler: Wizards

Tim MacMahon: Wizards

Bobby Marks: Wizards

Dave McMenamin: Wizards

Monica McNutt: Wizards

Kevin Pelton: Wizards

Jorge Sedano: Celtics

Ramona Shelburne: Wizards

André Snellings: Wizards

Marc J. Spears: Wizards

Royce Young: Wizards

Ohm Youngmisuk: Wizards


Final tally: Wizards (12), Celtics (4)

Jerry Bembry: Pacers

Nick DePaula: Hornets

Nick Friedell: Pacers

Kirk Goldsberry: Hornets

Tim Legler: Hornets

Tim MacMahon: Hornets

Bobby Marks: Pacers

Dave McMenamin: Hornets

Monica McNutt: Pacers

Kevin Pelton: Pacers

Jorge Sedano: Pacers

Ramona Shelburne: Pacers

André Snellings: Pacers

Marc J. Spears: Pacers

Royce Young: Pacers

Ohm Youngmisuk: Hornets


Final tally: Pacers (10), Hornets (6)

Western Conference play-in: Game 1s

Jerry Bembry: Lakers

Nick DePaula: Warriors

Nick Friedell: Lakers

Kirk Goldsberry: Lakers

Tim Legler: Lakers

Tim MacMahon: Lakers

Bobby Marks: Lakers

Dave McMenamin: Lakers

Monica McNutt: Lakers

Kevin Pelton: Lakers

Jorge Sedano: Lakers

Ramona Shelburne: Lakers

André Snellings: Lakers

Marc J. Spears: Lakers

Royce Young: Lakers

Ohm Youngmisuk: Lakers


Final tally: Lakers (15), Warriors (1)

Jerry Bembry: Grizzlies

Nick DePaula: Grizzlies

Nick Friedell: Grizzlies

Kirk Goldsberry: Spurs

Tim Legler: Spurs

Tim MacMahon: Grizzlies

Bobby Marks: Grizzlies

Dave McMenamin: Grizzlies

Monica McNutt: Grizzlies

Kevin Pelton: Grizzlies

Jorge Sedano: Grizzlies

Ramona Shelburne: Grizzlies

André Snellings: Grizzlies

Marc J. Spears: Spurs

Royce Young: Grizzlies

Ohm Youngmisuk: Grizzlies


Final tally: Grizzlies (13), Spurs (3)

Eastern Conference: Round 1

Jerry Bembry: Heat in 6

Nick DePaula: Heat in 6

Nick Friedell: Bucks in 6

Kirk Goldsberry: Bucks in 7

Tim Legler: Heat in 7

Tim MacMahon: Bucks in 7

Bobby Marks: Bucks in 6

Dave McMenamin: Bucks in 7

Monica McNutt: Bucks in 7

Kevin Pelton: Bucks in 7

Jorge Sedano: Heat in 7

Ramona Shelburne: Bucks in 7

André Snellings: Bucks in 6

Marc J. Spears: Bucks in 7

Royce Young: Bucks in 6

Ohm Youngmisuk: Bucks in 7


Final tally: Bucks (12), Heat (4)

Jerry Bembry: Knicks in 6

Nick DePaula: Knicks in 6

Nick Friedell: Knicks in 6

Kirk Goldsberry: Knicks in 6

Tim Legler: Knicks in 6

Tim MacMahon: Knicks in 6

Bobby Marks: Knicks in 7

Dave McMenamin: Knicks in 6

Monica McNutt: Knicks in 6

Kevin Pelton: Knicks in 7

Jorge Sedano: Knicks in 7

Ramona Shelburne: Knicks in 5

André Snellings: Hawks in 6

Marc J. Spears: Knicks in 6

Royce Young: Hawks in 7

Ohm Youngmisuk: Knicks in 7


Final tally: Knicks (14), Hawks (2)

Western Conference: Round 1

Jerry Bembry: Nuggets in 7

Nick DePaula: Blazers in 7

Nick Friedell: Nuggets in 7

Kirk Goldsberry: Nuggets in 7

Tim Legler: Blazers in 7

Tim MacMahon: Nuggets in 6

Bobby Marks: Nuggets in 7

Dave McMenamin: Nuggets in 6

Monica McNutt: Blazers in 7

Kevin Pelton: Blazers in 6

Jorge Sedano: Blazers in 7

Ramona Shelburne: Nuggets in 7

André Snellings: Blazers in 7

Marc J. Spears: Blazers in 7

Royce Young: Blazers in 7

Ohm Youngmisuk: Nuggets in 7


Final tally: Blazers (8), Nuggets (8).

Jerry Bembry: Clippers in 6

Nick DePaula: Clippers in 6

Nick Friedell: Clippers in 6

Kirk Goldsberry: Clippers in 7

Tim Legler: Clippers in 6

Tim MacMahon: Clippers in 7

Bobby Marks: Clippers in 6

Dave McMenamin: Clippers in 5

Monica McNutt: Clippers in 6

Kevin Pelton: Clippers in 6

Jorge Sedano: Clippers in 6

Ramona Shelburne: Clippers in 5

André Snellings: Clippers in 5

Marc J. Spears: Clippers in 6

Royce Young: Mavericks in 7

Ohm Youngmisuk: Clippers in 6


Final tally: Clippers (15), Mavericks (1)



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