NBA Playoffs Bracket 2021: Updated Matchups After Lakers and Celtics Advance

The Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics clinched a spot in the NBA Playoffs after successfully navigating the first round of the play-in tournament.

The Lakers, who finished the regular season with the seventh-best record in the Western Conference, defeated the Golden State Warriors 103-100 on Wednesday night courtesy of LeBron James' game-winning three pointer with 58.2 seconds left.

Having missed 26 of the Lakers' last 30 regular season games due to an ankle injury, James hit a three-pointer over Stephen Curry from 34 feet out to lift the defending NBA champions past the Warriors.

A day earlier, the Celtics, who like the Lakers finished the regular season as the No. 7 in their conference, overcame the Washington Wizards 118-100 as Jayson Tatum exploded for 50 points.

Now that the Lakers and the Celtics have punched their postseason ticket, 14 of the 16 playoff berths are filled. The picture will be completed over the next two days, when the Wizards take on the Indiana Pacers and the Warriors face the Memphis Grizzlies.

Here's all you need to know about the 2021 NBA Playoffs, which begin on Saturday.

NBA play-in tournament schedule

The Indiana Pacers host the Washington Wizards on Thursday night in the final play-in tournament game in the Eastern Conference.

The Pacers finished the regular season as the ninth seed in the East and defeated the Charlotte Hornets 144-117 on Tuesday, while the Wizards lost 118-100 against the Celtics.

Washington, however, has another shot at reaching the playoffs by virtue of finishing the regular season with the conference's eighth-best record.

The same applies to the Warriors in the Western Conference. Golden State lost 103-100 to the Lakers on Wednesday night and will play the Memphis Grizzlies, the No. 9 seed in the regular season who defeated the San Antonio Spurs 100-97.

Eastern Conference—Thursday, May 20

  • Indiana Pacers vs. Washington Wizards—8 p.m. ET, TNT

Western Conference—Friday, May 21

  • Memphis Grizzlies vs. Golden State Warriors—9 p.m. ET, ESPN

Which teams are in the NBA Playoffs?

Having secured the No. 7 seed, the Celtics will face the Brooklyn Nets in the first round of the playoffs. Brooklyn went 48-24 in the regular season, the Eastern Conference's second-best record behind the Philadelphia 76ers, who secured the No. 1 seed for the first time in two decades.

The Sixers finished 49-23 and will face the winner of the game between Pacers and Wizards.

The Milwaukee Bucks hold the No. 3 seed after going 46-26 in the regular season and will take on the Miami Heat in the first round. Last season's Eastern Conference champions, the Heat finished the regular season with a 40-32 record, just behind the New York Knicks and Atlanta Hawks, who both won 41 games.

The Knicks secured the No. 4 seed as they return to the playoffs for the first time since 2013, while the fifth-seeded Hawks make their first postseason appearance since 2017.

Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics
Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics during the second half of the game in the play-in tournament against the Washington Wizards at TD Garden on May 18 in Boston, Massachusetts. Tatum scored 50 points as the Celtics clinched the No. 7 in the Eastern Conference. Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images

In the Western Conference, the Lakers face the Phoenix Suns in a series pitting the No. 7 seed against the No. 2 seed. The Suns finished with a 51-21 regular season record and were the only team along with the Utah Jazz to win at least 50 games in the regular season.

The series will mark the first time James has gone into a playoff series with a team ranked lower than the fourth seed in his career. It's also the first time his team won't have the home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

The Jazz, who won a league-high 52 games and secured the No. 1 seed for the first time since the 1997-98 season, will face either the Warriors or the Grizzlies.

After finishing 47-25 and clinching the No. 3 spot, the Denver Nuggets take on the No. 6 Portland Trail Blazers in a rematch of the 2019 Western Conference semifinals. The Trail Blazers went 42-30, the same record as the Dallas Mavericks, who claimed the No. 5 seed and will face the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round.

The Clippers clinched the No. 4 seed with a 47-25 regular season record.

NBA Playoffs bracket

Numbers denote seed

Eastern Conference

  • No. 1 Philadelphia 76ers vs. No. 8 TBD
  • No. 2 Brooklyn Nets vs. No. 7 Boston Celtics
  • No. 3 Milwaukee Bucks vs. No. 6 Miami Heat
  • No. 4 New York Knicks vs. No. 5 Atlanta Hawks

Western Conference

  • No. 1 Utah Jazz vs. No. 8 TBD
  • No. 2 Phoenix Suns vs. No. 7 Los Angeles Lakers
  • No. 3 Denver Nuggets vs. No. 6 Portland Trail Blazers
  • No. 4 Los Angeles Clippers vs. No. 5 Dallas Mavericks

Odds to win NBA Finals

At 2-1 with DraftKings and FanDuel and 11-5 with William Hill, the Nets are the bookmakers' favorite to win the NBA title this season. The Lakers follow suit at 4-1 with William Hill and DraftKings and 9-2 with FanDuel, ahead of the Clippers and Jazz both at 6-1.

The Sixers and Bucks, meanwhile, are both 8-1.

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