2024 NBA play-in tournament: rules, dates, and everything you need to know

Los Angeles Lakers v Golden State Warriors
Los Angeles Lakers v Golden State Warriors / Ezra Shaw/GettyImages

Luckily, the Denver Nuggets won’t be factoring into the 2024 NBA play-in tournament, as they chasing the number one seed in the Western Conference. But should the Nuggets finish with a top-two seed, their first-round opponent will be determined by the play-in.

So there is some extra intrigue for Nuggets fans, and reason to start paying closer attention to the bottom of the West playoff picture. Here’s everything you need to know.

What is the NBA Play-In tournament?

The play-in is a tournament that determines which teams will earn the seventh and eighth seeds for each conference’s playoffs. The tournament was berthed in 2020 for the bubble to help compensate for canceled games, and it has been a regular part of the NBA season ever since.

Which teams will play in the tournament?

The play-in will feature the seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth-place teams in each conference’s final standings. As it stands right now, that would mean:


7. Miami Heat

8. Philadelphia 76ers

9. Chicago Bulls

10. Atlanta Hawks


7. Phoenix Suns

8. Dallas Mavericks

9. Los Angeles Lakers

10. Golden State Warriors

How does it work?

The format of the play-in seems a bit confusing at first glance but it’s really quite simple. The seventh seed will host the eighth seed in each conference for one game. The winner of that matchup will earn the seventh seed.

Meanwhile, the ninth seed will host the tenth seed. The loser of that game is eliminated from the postseason. Finally, the loser of the 7/8 game will host the winner of the 9/10 game, and the winner will clinch the eighth seed in the playoffs.

So it’s a total of six extra games, three in each conference, and no more than two for any team.

When is the play-in tournament?

The play-in will take place after the regular season ends, and before the playoffs begin. This year, the regular season ends on Sunday, April 14th, and the play-in tournament will start on Tuesday, April 16th, and will end on Friday, April 19th. The NBA playoffs will start the following day, on Sunday, April 20th.