When is the NBA Play-In Tournament? Rules, teams, location & how to watch

Milwaukee Bucks v Sacramento Kings
Milwaukee Bucks v Sacramento Kings / Ezra Shaw/GettyImages

With the regular season almost over, the postseason is fast approaching. The Sacramento Kings are currently in sixth place in the West but by no means safe from falling in the standings. If they finish the season anywhere between seventh and tenth place, the Kings will have to battle their way through the Play-In Tournament

So, here is everything you need to know about the Play-In Tournament.

When is the 2024 Play-In Tournament?

This year, the regular season ends on April 14, and the Play-In Tournament will take place from April 16-19. On April 16, the teams in seventh and eighth place in each conference will face off to decide who will go to the playoffs right away. 

The next day, the teams in ninth and tenth place in each conference will square off. The losers are immediately eliminated, and the winners get another chance to go to the playoffs on April 19, when they will face the losers of the April 16 matchups. 

How many teams make the Play-In Tournament?

In each conference, four teams make the Play-In Tournament by placing anywhere between seventh and tenth. Only two in each conference move on to the playoffs, however.

How can I watch the Play-In Tournament?

All six Play-In Tournament games will be broadcast on TNT and ESPN. The schedule will be released once the matchups are finalized.

How does the NBA Play-In Tournament work?

The Play-In Tournament was first approved in 2020 to add some competitiveness to the end of the regular season. All teams finishing between seventh and tenth in their conference standings have to battle their way through single-elimination games to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Many teams would like to avoid that scenario, meaning that they will play with full effort until the last second of the regular season. First, the seventh and eighth-seeded teams in each conference will face off with the former having home-court advantage.

The winner secures the seventh seed and goes to the playoffs, while the loser will have to wait. After that, the ninth and tenth-placed teams in each conference play. The loser is immediately eliminated from the postseason, and the winner gets a chance to play the loser from the 7-8 game to secure the last playoff spot. 

The first winner from the Play-In Tournament—the seventh seed—will have to face the second-best team in each conference while the other one draws the top seed. 

Generally, the team with the better standing will have home-court advantage in all play-in games.