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NBA Play-in Tournament: Everything You Need to Know

NBA play in tournament

The NBA playoffs provide some of the most intense and exciting moments in sports. The best teams in the league go head-to-head, battling it out in a series of games to determine who will be crowned the NBA champion. However, the path to the playoffs has not always been clear, especially for teams that are on the cusp of qualifying for the postseason. That’s where the NBA play-in tournament comes in.

The NBA play-in tournament is a relatively new addition to the league’s playoff format. It was first introduced during the 2019-20 season, before becoming a permanent fixture on the NBA calendar.

In this article, we’re digging into the play-in tournament. We will review the rules, background and its impact on teams and the NBA.

What’s the point of the NBA play-in tournament?

The NBA has always been focused on improving the game and making it more exciting for fans. One of the ways that they have done this is by changing the playoff format over the years. The league has experimented with different formats, such as the best-of-five and best-of-seven series, as well as adding new teams to the playoffs.

The play-in tournament was introduced during to the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID pandemic forced the league to condense the regular season and delay the start of the playoffs. The league had discussed the tournament for many years, but given it was such a drastic change, it never more than an idea.

With the goal of making the end of season more dramatic, the NBA took the opportunity the pandemic presented to do something different. They created the NBA bubble. Quarantining the NBA’s best players for the playoffs, with the NBA play-in tournament being part of it.

Why did the NBA introduce the play-in?

While the timing of the pandemic provided the perfect opportunity for a change, the play-in tournament was really designed to increase interest in the regular season by providing additional opportunities for teams to qualify for the playoffs.

The format of the tournament was initially only for the eight and nine seeds in each conference. The eighth seed would play the ninth seed, and the winner would advance to the playoffs as the eighth seed. However, for the 2020-21 season, the format was expanded to include the seventh and tenth seeds as well.

How does the NBA play-in tournament work?

The rules for the play-in tournament are relatively simple. The seven and eight seeds in each conference will play each other, and the winner will advance to the playoffs as the seventh seed. The loser of the seven vs. eight game will then play the winner of the nine vs. ten game for the final playoff spot in the conference.

The seven vs. eight game is a single-elimination game, meaning that the winner advances and the loser is eliminated. The nine vs. ten game is also a single-elimination game, with the winner advancing to play the loser of the seven vs. eight game.

The play-in tournament takes place after the regular season and before the playoffs. The tournament will include the teams that finish in the seventh through tenth positions in each conference.

Impact on the NBA

The play-in tournament has had a significant impact on the NBA. It has added excitement and competitiveness to the end of the regular season and has given more teams a chance to qualify for the playoffs. It has also provided more opportunities for teams to showcase their talents and compete on a national stage.

The play-in tournament has also had a positive impact on television ratings, providing additional meaningful games. It has also increased the number of teams that are in contention for the playoffs, which has led to increased interest in the regular season.

One of the biggest benefits of the play-in tournament is that it gives more teams a chance to compete in the playoffs. In the past, teams that were just outside the playoff picture had little chance of qualifying for the postseason. With the play-in tournament, these teams now have a realistic chance of making the playoffs and competing for a championship.

The impact of the Tournament on Teams

The play-in tournament has had a significant impact on teams as well. For teams that are on the cusp of qualifying for the playoffs, in the past, it was an easy decision to throw in the towel and tank the rest of the season. Now this decision is a little more difficult.

It certainly hasn’t solved the end of season tanking issue. Most recently the Dallas Mavericks have been under league investigation for blatantly pulling their top players to avoid the play-in tournament and keep their top protected pick, per The Athletic. A pick that is coincidently held by the New York Knicks.

For teams that have struggled during the regular season, the play-in tournament provides a chance to redeem themselves and make a late-season push for the playoffs. It also gives these teams the opportunity to gain valuable playoff experience and build momentum for future seasons.

The play-in tournament has also created more excitement and energy in locker rooms. For teams that have qualified for the tournament, there is a renewed sense of optimism and enthusiasm. Players are more motivated to perform at their best and compete for a spot in the playoffs.

Downside of the NBA play-in tournament

On the other hand, teams that have missed out on the playoffs due to the play-in tournament have stressed their frustration with the format. Even the league’s best, LeBron James, said “Whoever came up with that shit needs to be fired.”

After a hard fought season, missing the playoffs due to two single matchups is a tough pill to swallow. You can understand the frustration the losing teams face.

For these teams, the tournament represents a missed opportunity to achieve their goals and compete for a championship. However, it also serves as a valuable lesson and motivator for future seasons.

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