On Friday the NBA and NBAPA reached a consensus agreement to run-it-back, as it pertains to the play-in tournament.
It will again decide the final two playoff spots in each conference. The NBA Board Of Governors is expected to approve the decision in August.
A large contingent of fans believes that the NBA play-in tournament was clearly designed to squeeze out more revenue for the league while putting players at greater risk for injury, which potentially hampers first-round matchups.
As evidenced by the rash of injuries to star players, the play-in tournament was among several potential reasons why bodies were breaking down left and right. Maybe it was also the shortest off-season in the history of the league coming back to rear its ugly head.
The play-in tournament was implemented as the 2019-20 season — which was stalled four months due to the COVID-19 pandemic — resumed.
While the Black Lives Matter messages have been removed from the floor, the tournament stayed in place with seeds 7-10 in each conference battling it out for the final two playoff spots.
Although the format drew the ire of some players including LeBron James, the Lakers did finish seventh in the Western Conference in the regular season. Meaning they would have to take part in this season after being the top seed in the “Disney NBA Bubble.” They defeated the Warriors to remain the seventh seed in the playoffs. The game at the time was the most-watched NBA game since 2019.
In some ways, the play-in was also designed to deter teams from tanking, with the increased chances to now make the postseason with more teams involved. It was also being touted as a way to hopefully re-engage fan interaction, especially for some of the league’s worst teams.
The biggest drawback in a play-in tournament is unpredictability. The NBA risks losing some of its superstar names before the playoffs begin, as evidenced by the Warriors and Stephen Curry losing their second game to the upstart Grizzlies which ended Golden State’s season short of the playoffs.
Under the previous format, LeBron and his Lakers or Curry and his Warriors squads would’ve been the seventh and eighth seeds.
Personally, I’m on the fence with the play-in tournament but I honestly don’t see it being implemented past next season.