The NBA’s play-in was a rousing success last season.
It made the Western Conference playoff race more thrilling. The Trail Blazers beat the Grizzlies a fun high-stakes game to snag the No. 8 seed. In the Eastern Conference, teams separated themselves enough avoid the play-in, which was fine with everyone.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver wants to make the play-in a permanent fixture of the NBA schedule.
Even in the upcoming rushed season.
Shams Charania of The Athletic:
The NBA wants to continue to incorporate the play-in tournament that was utilized in the Orlando restart to determine the eighth seed in the Eastern and Western Conference playoffs, according to sources.
Silver has long backed a play-in but struggled to get ownership support until the bubble. Among the dissenters: Traditionalists who didn’t want to alter the 82-game season.
Well, next season will also be untraditional regardless. So, Silver could have an easier time getting everyone on board. With a shorter regular season, it makes even more sense for teams to have an opportunity to separate themselves.
Would a play-in follow the same format as last season? The ninth-place team activated the play-in if within four games of the eighth-place team. The ninth-place team then had to beat the eighth-place team twice before the eighth-place team won once. So, the play-in lasted one or two games (not a tournament, and not even necessarily a series).
There’s room for tinkering. The threshold for qualifying could change. More teams could be involved. But it seems more likely than not the play-in will happen next season.
And if it’s used two years in a row, the play-in would gain even more momentum toward becoming an annual event.