Amy Audibert (pictured) is now an analyst with the Miami Heat. Photo credit: Twitter/Amy Audibert
If the NBA ‘play-in’ format wasn’t intriguing enough, enter the Minnesota Timberwolves and this past Sunday.
To call it an epic meltdown might be a massive understatement.
First forward Jaden McDaniels broke his hand punching the wall in frustration and is done for the rest of the season – however far the T-Wolves may go. Then center Rudy Gobert punched teammate Kyle Anderson during a timeout. Minnesota announced Monday that Gobert will be suspended for Tuesday’s play-in game against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Elsewhere Tuesday night seventh seed Miami entertains No. 8 Atlanta.
Closer to home, the Toronto Raptors, who finished the 2022-23 season at .500 with a (41-41) record, and finished ninth in the NBA Eastern Conference standings welcome the tenth ranked Chicago Bulls Wednesday evening, followed by Oklahoma City at New Orleans.
Here’s how the NBA ‘play-in’ works.
The tournament is single-elimination for the No. 9 and No. 10 seeds in each conference and double-elimination for the No. 7 and No. 8 seeds in each conference.
The winner of a 7-8 game becomes the conference’s No. 7 seed and advances to face the No. 2 seed in the first round. The loser of the 7-8 game gets another shot at the playoffs later in the play-in bracket.
The loser of the 9-10 game is eliminated from playoff contention. The winner moves on to face the loser of the 7-8 game for the final playoff spot in their respective conference.
Niagara Falls Sports Hall of Famer Amy Audibert, who now works as an analyst for the Miami Heat, recently joined the Niagara Sports Report to break down the NBA Playoffs.
We’ll start closest to home with the Raptors.
“I would call the Raptors season interesting because it’s not over yet,” said Audibert. “And that’s the glory of the play-in. They still got it. It’s unfortunate when you can’t string it all together. They’re not a team anyone wants to see in a play-in situation,” who added this in regards to Nick Nurse moving on from Toronto after the Raptors season ends:
“Unfortunately, it kind of raised a lot of eyebrows with his open and honest (comments) which in some ways we can appreciate, we don’t always get to hear that – I’m not sure. I think Masai Ujrii (President) and Bobby Webster (General Manager) are tremendous at what they do, I’m just not sure.”
As for her pick in the NBA East, Audibert offered this.
“I think it’s Milwaukee. They have, in my opinion, one of the best players in the world in Giannis (Antetokounmpo).
And they’re tough on both ends of the floor.”
Milwaukee is the top seed in the east, while Boston finished second. Both await their first round playoff opponents.
And in the NBA West:
“I would like to see Mike Malone (Denver Nuggets head coach) go, so I’m going to say Denver,” Audibert said.
The Nuggets are the top ranked team in the west, with Memphis at No. 2. Again, both teams are waiting to see who they match up against in the opening round of the postseason.
“It’s going to be an incredible postseason this year,” Audibert added.
Rod Mawhood is a lifelong Niagara native who has had the pleasure of working in all three mediums – Radio, Print and TV – for over 20 years. His first announcing gig was with the then St. Catharines Stompers. Since then he’s worked in radio and TV in Toronto, and currently is the announcer for the Niagara IceDogs and Niagara River Lions.
Rod also covers the Buffalo Bills for FOX Sports and the Buffalo Sabres for NBC Sports.