Play-in tournament round added in the NBA playoffs


Andrew Valles, Junior

The NBA board of governors has recently unanimously approved the addition of a playoff play-in tournament. This play-in tournament has been implemented only for the 2020-21 season and will take place after the regular season, but before the first round of the playoffs. 

According to the NBA’s Twitter account, “Teams with the 7th-highest through the 10th-highest winning percentages in each conference will qualify to determine the 7th & 8th seeds.”

The NBA’s play-in tournament will begin Tuesday, May 18 and is planned to conclude on Friday, May 21. 

The teams with the 7th and 8th highest regular-season record from both conferences will have two opportunities to win a game to earn a playoff spot. The teams with the 9th and 10th highest regular-season record will have to win two consecutive games to earn the No. 8 seed. 

The teams with 7th and 8th best win-loss regular season record from each conference will play against each other in what will be called the “Seven-Eight” game, to earn the No. 7 seed. The squads with the 9th and 10th highest regular-season record will play what is being called the “Nine-Ten” game for the chance to earn the No. 8 seed. The loser of the “Seven-Eight” game will then be hosting the winner of the “Nine-Ten” game in a match to determine the No. 8 seed. 

Some NBA players do not entirely agree with the new playoff format for this year. As Dallas’ Mavericks player Luca Donic shared,  “You play 72 games to get in the playoffs, then maybe you lose two in a row and you’re out of the playoffs. I don’t see the point of that.”

A smaller version of the play-in tournament was implemented in Orlando last summer during the NBA Restart, where the teams with the 8th and 9th highest win-loss record faced off to determine the No. 8 seed. As of now, it is unconfirmed if this playoff format will remain for the next season. 

Additionally, only 3 teams from each of the Eastern and Western conferences are safe and do not need to participate in this play-in tournament, as they mathematically cannot end lower than sixth place. Those teams being the Philadelphia 76ers, Brooklyn Nets, Milwaukee Bucks, Utah Jazz, Phoenix Suns, and the Los Angeles Clippers.