In This Play-In Tournament, I'm Rooting for Everybody Black. And By Everybody Black, I Mean Steph Curry

Illustration for article titled In This Play-In Tournament, I'm Rooting for Everybody Black. And By Everybody Black, I Mean Steph Curry
Photo: Ezra Shaw (Getty Images)

Pardon me if you’ve heard this before, but Steph Curry is really fucking good.

So good, that not only did he lead the league in scoring this season (at a 32 points per game clip), but he’s dragged the Golden State Warriors into the play-in tournament kicking and screaming along the way.


As anyone who’s been following the NBA this season is acutely aware, the Dubs—who routinely trot out the likes of Damion Lee, Kevon Looney, and Mychal Mulder—have been beset by injuries (Klay Thompson, rookie James Wiseman, and Kelly Oubre Jr. just to name a few) and have absolutely no business whatsoever making the playoffs. But because Chef Curry is capable of spontaneous combustion at any given moment, soon and very soon, the Warriors are going to see the king—and by king, I mean King James.

The Lakers ended up in this predicament because, much like the Warriors, they’ve been decimated by injuries this season (Anthony Davis, Dennis Schröder, and LeBron have all missed significant time) and they might’ve missed the playoffs entirely had they not snatched up Andre Drummond from the buyout market in March.

But after months of uncertainty, here’s how the play-in tournament will shake out:

Illustration for article titled In This Play-In Tournament, I'm Rooting for Everybody Black. And By Everybody Black, I Mean Steph Curry
Illustration: NBA

I will now open the floor to questions.

Okay, explain how this whole play-in tournament thing works again.

Instead of the top eight teams in each conference automatically qualifying for the playoffs, we now live in a world where the top six teams in each conference earn a playoff berth and the teams seeded 7th through 10th go to war for the right to play in the postseason. The play-in tournament was implemented last summer in order to further incentivize the regular season and deter teams from tanking. (It didn’t exactly work.)


The next part gets a bit confusing, so I’ll allow Sports Illustrated to explain it:

The team with the seventh-highest winning percentage in each conference will host one game against the team with the eighth-highest winning percentage, with the winner in each conference earning the No. 7 seed.

In another game, the team with the ninth-highest winning percentage in each conference will host the team with the tenth-highest winning percentage. While the loser of that game will be eliminated from postseason contention, the winner of the No. 9 vs. 10 game will play the loser of the No. 7 vs. 8 game.

The winner of that last game—between the 7/8 loser and the 9/10 winner—in each conference will earn the No. 8 seed.


Got all that?

Okay, so which teams are playing and when?

Eastern Conference (on Tuesday, May 18)

  • No. 10 Charlotte Hornets at No. 9 Indiana Pacers (6:30 p.m. ET, TNT)
  • No. 8 Washington Wizards at No. 7 Boston Celtics (9 p.m. ET, TNT)

Western Conference (on Wednesday, May 19)

  • No. 10 San Antonio Spurs at No. 9 Memphis Grizzlies (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)
  • No. 8 Golden State Warriors at No. 7 Los Angeles Lakers (10 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Oh shit! The Lakers are really playing the Warriors?!

Yes, nigga! Ain’t God good!?

The absolute last player on planet Earth that nobody wants to see in a winner takes all game is Steph Curry, and King James already knows what time it is.


“We’re playing versus, in my opinion, the MVP of our league this year in Steph,” James told reporters on Sunday. “We got to be prepared for everything they have. They have championship DNA.”


Add in the fact that LeBron is 36-years-old and reaggravated his bothersome ankle on Sunday and shit gets infinitely more interesting. As a lifelong Laker hater, I would love nothing more than for Steph to be the one to keep LeBron and them out of the playoffs. And considering the Warriors spent half a decade slapping around King James and shaking him down for lunch money, this could end up being the best thing to happen since Avengers: Endgame. 

So I take that to mean you expect the Warriors to make the postseason?

I sure the hell do. I got the Warriors winning the 7th seed and the Grizzlies putting the hobbled Lakers out of their misery and taking the 8th seed. Cue shock and awe.


What about in the East?

Russell Westbrook’s basketball IQ leaves much to be desired, but I can’t wait to watch him go ape shit and prey on a Boston Celtics team that has been rocked by injuries and COVID-19 all season. Tatum is one of my favorite players in the league, but he can’t do that shit alone. I’ve got the Wizards and Hornets coming out of the East.


Anything else I should know?

Other than Steph is gonna bust the Lakers’ ass? Nope. But I’m looking forward to this play-in tournament.

Menace to supremacy. Founder of Extraordinary Ideas and co-host and producer of The Extraordinary Negroes podcast. Impatiently waiting for y'all to stop putting sugar in grits.



Watching Westbrook eviscerate The Celtics is giving me the feels. His anger alone will win them two games against The Nets. As for out West I hope everyone enjoyed the brief respite from The Warriors. If Klay was healthy this team would be a much higher seed and The NBA knows this. According to all the Bron boys Steph was washed up and never that good right? While The Lakers losing would make MAGA land happy the thought of an equally political athlete like Steph advancing makes it worth it. Sorry I don’t see the Grizzlies taking out LA.