The N.B.A.’s play-in tournament nearly fell flat with a series of blowout games until LeBron James and Stephen Curry rescued the postseason appetizer experiment with a dynamic one-off between the Los Angeles Lakers and Curry’s Golden State.
Now, the real games are here, with the Knicks and the Nets both earning a seat at the table.
The championship is up for grabs after a truncated off-season and a somewhat sluggish and injury-filled regular season.
In the Western Conference, neither of the two top seeds — the Utah Jazz or the Phoenix Suns — are favored to escape the conference with the defending-champion Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers lurking.
In the Eastern Conference, the Nets are finally at full strength at the right time, Milwaukee and Philadelphia are revamped, looking…