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COLUMN: The NBA playoffs are here

By. Taha Qureshi

INDIANA -- After 2,160 regular season games, countless injuries, and a relatively long list of COVID-19 related health and safety protocols, the NBA playoffs have finally arrived.

Well, almost.

Before the final cast of eight teams are completed for each conference, the league has re-introduced the play-in tournament that would determine the No.7 and No.8 seeds in the East and West.

Met with some resistance by some players, most recently LeBron James of the L.A. Lakers, it looks like the format is here to stay.

So in the next four days beginning tomorrow eight teams ranked seventh to tenth from each conference will duke it our for a total of four playoffs spots.

The Boston Celtics, Washington Wizards, Indiana Pacers and Charlotte Hornets are the participants in the East while the Lakers, Warriors, Grizzlies and Spurs consist the West.

The No.7 and No.8 ranked squads play first with the winner advancing to the postseason as the seventh seed while the loser will face the winner of the No. 9 vs. No. 10 match-up to determine the No.8 seed.

Since the NBA is a star-droven league, the consensus is that the Lakers --- with LeBron, Anthony Davis Andre Drummomd are leading the charge --- and the Steph Curry-led Warriors will come out in the West.

All-Stars Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal, who has recently been slowed by a hamstring injury, is expected to carry the day for Washington while similar expecrations are placed on the shoulders of All-Star Damontas Sabonis in Indiana.

But absent a seven-game series that provides more preparation, rest and recovery, the set-up where these teams play two games each in four days makes outcomes harder to tell.

What's certain though is that the next couple of days will be a blast for NBA fans around the world. (TQ)

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