NBA

One reason to pay attention to each team in the 2021 NBA Play-In Tournament

Are you ready for the Play-In Tournament?

With 12 spots locked up for the 2021 NBA Playoffs, eight teams are left fighting over the final four spots in the Play-In Tournament.

In the Eastern Conference, the Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards will face off in the first Play-In Game, with the winner getting the No. 7 seed. The loser will then face the winner of the Play-In Game between the Charlotte Hornets and Indiana Pacers with the No. 8 seed on the line.

In the Western Conference, the Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors will battle over the No. 7 seed, leaving the loser to play either the Memphis Grizzlies or San Antonio Spurs for the No. 8 seed.

Still confused? This handy-dandy table might help:

If the high stakes of each game isn't enough, here's something to watch for each team in the Play-In Tournament.

Charlotte Hornets: LaMelo Ball's audacious passes

Key stat: Ball averaged 6.1 assists per game this season. Only 11 active players dished out more assists in their rookie season, a list that includes Chris Paul (7.8), Damian Lillard (6.5) and LaMelo's brother, Lonzo Ball (7.2). As we've looked at before, no pass is off limits for Ball.

Memphis Grizzlies: Ja Morant's gravity-defying dunks

Key stat: Morant had 46 dunks this season. The only guards to out-dunk him were Zach LaVine (53), Anthony Edwards (70) and Ben Simmons (85). He's only 6-foot-3, but Morant has pogo sticks for legs.

Washington Wizards: Russell Westbrook's clutch play

Key stat: Westbrook scored 131 points in the clutch this season, tying him with Nikola Jokic for fourth-most in the league. He shot 49.5 percent from the field and 34.5 percent from the 3-point line with the game on the line.

Golden State Warriors: Stephen Curry's limitless range

Key stat: According to Stathead, Curry made 101 shots from 28-plus feet this season, the most in the NBA. He converted them at a 40.7 percent clip. It's gotten to the point where Curry needs to be picked up as soon as he crosses halfcourt.

San Antonio Spurs: DeMar DeRozan's unstoppable isolation game

Key stat: DeRozan scored at a rate of 1.20 points per possession in isolation this season, ranking him in the 96th percentile in efficiency. He doesn't shoot 3s, but DeRozan is one of the league's best drivers.

Boston Celtics: Jayson Tatum's smooth pull-ups

Key stat: Tatum made 125 pull-up 3s this season, putting him behind only Luka Doncic (160), Stephen Curry (185) and Damian Lillard (201) for most in the league. At 6-foot-8 with a 6-foot-11 wingspan, Tatum's jumper is almost unblockable.

Los Angeles Lakers: LeBron James getting out in transition

Key stat: LeBron averaged 5.6 points per game in transition this season, the third-most in the league behind Giannis Antetokounmpo (8.2) and Jaylen Brown (6.1). There's a laundry list of reasons to pay attention to LeBron, but watching him pick off passes as a free safety and turn it into easy offence will never get old.

Indiana Pacers: Domantas Sabonis' Nikola Jokic impression

Key stat: The only players who finished the season with more triple-doubles than Sabonis (9) were Luka Doncic (11), James Harden (12), Nikola Jokic (16) and Russell Westbrook (38). Sabonis has become an all-around threat on offence.

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