Every team still playing for the NBA championship has their season on the line in some capacity each game. However, some teams are backed into a corner while others like the Heat are resting, training and preparing for their first round matchups. Wednesday night saw the Western Conference playing its first two play-in tournament games with one team advancing to the NBA playoffs and one team having its season end.
According to the latest SB Nation Reacts survey taken before the play-in games began, fans around the NBA thought the Golden State Warriors had the best chance of advancing beyond the play-in tournament, with 81 percent believing the team would win one of their games. They are followed by the Los Angeles Lakers, who had 80 percent of fans trusting their gut that they would win a game, and they did with a wild finish that saw LeBron James heave a desperation 3 to book their passage to the playoffs.
As thrilling as that finish was — it wasn’t quite a win-or-go-home game — but the Warriors have now been put into an extremely dangerous position fighting for their playoff lives with a game against the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday. Fortunately for LA and Golden State no matter how they end their respective seasons, they have two of the best players in the game in Stephen Curry and LeBron James.
However, if forced to pick between the two, nearly three-fourths of fans believe Curry is more dangerous in an elimination game than James.
The first of the Eastern Conference play-in tournament games were played Tuesday night with the Boston Celtics earning the first bid into the playoffs after beating the Washington Wizards. 61 percent of NBA fans believed the Celtics would advance, falling only behind the Wizards team they beat, which took 78 percent. The Indiana Pacers received the least amount of votes, with only 24 percent, but lived to fight another day after beating the Charlotte Hornets.
The Hornets loss ended their season, but it’s not the end of exciting times in Charlotte. Point guard LaMelo Ball was picked by 52 percent of NBA fans as the player who should win the Rookie of the Year award. Ball beat out Minnesota Timberwolves’ top pick Anthony Edwards 36 percent and Sacramento Kings rookie Tyrese Haliburton who earned 12 percent.
Wednesday night’s clash between the Lakers and Warriors decided who faces the Phoenix Suns in the first round. The Warriors and the Grizzlies will instead play for a chance to face off against the Utah Jazz and center Rudy Gobert. The Jazz star was the top pick among fans, with 49 percent of the vote, to win Defensive Player of the Year. Bam Adebayo received a solid amount of votes, possibly aided by his recent self-campaigning for DPOY on TNT after a Heat victory, but it wasn’t enough to overcome Rudy’s big-time performance this season. Perhaps that will motivate Bam to raise his level of play during the postseason and prove that he belongs in the conversation of top NBA players? Only time will tell.
To vote in the Reacts surveys and have your voice heard each week, sign up here.