Why I Love The NBA Play-In Tournament Concept

“Whoever came up with that s*** needs to be fired,” LeBron James said. 

The play in-game tournament for the 7th-10th seeds has proven a controversial topic throughout the NBA regular season. It seems that teams who find themselves in the inaugural tournament may not favor the idea. Some critics of the format include LeBron James, Mark Cuban, and Luka Doncic. However, I beg to differ, and I’m here to tell you why this is the best change the NBA could’ve possibly made. 

Yawn, another regular season is coming to a close, and all the seeding has already been determined. This has been the case for as long as I can remember. Over the last ten years, I’ve always said the following to my fellow NBA connoisseurs, “The regular season is boring, but the playoffs are the real-ish.” 

But this is no longer the case. The initiation of this new format adds a sense of urgency to the regular season that has long been missing. If you look at the current standings, players currently slotted for this tournament include Stephen Curry, Damian Lillard, Ja Morant, Russell Westbrook, and LaMelo Ball. 

This is a tremendous amount of star power who will all be fighting desperately to secure a birth in the postseason. And the mesmerizing thing about it is that it gives off a March Madness-type nostalgia feel, with professional level talent. This is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before in my life.

Now I hear you if you’re one of those people who believes a team earned their spot in the playoffs after an 82 or 72 game schedule. And from a statistical standpoint, you are 100 percent correct. 

However, a record can prove misleading. For example, wins and losses alone don’t factor in mid-season injuries, coaching changes, and who’s on a hot streak. 

And while each perspective has validity, I think most of us can probably agree that the NBA is much more competitive with this new format in place. 

Last week, I was intermittently watching the Los Angeles Lakers and Sacramento Kings game. Everyone and Grandma’s Cookies thought that the Lake Show would cruise to victory. But it turns out that Sacramento was ready to scrap, and they were able to secure a victory against L.A. in the closing minutes. This result would’ve been considered a cute upset in previous seasons and would’ve likely never been spoken of again.

But not this year. The Lakers’ loss moved them precariously closer to the play-in tournament, which actually made the game meaningful. 

The same thing can be said about the Portland Trail Blazers’ five-game slide toward the middle-end of April. At the time, it appeared likely that Rip City would be able to avoid the play-in scenario. However, the five-game losing streak knocked Portland down a couple of spots, and they’re still fighting to get out of the seventh-seed. 

The Lakers and Blazers are set to square off tonight in a game with serious playoff implications on the line. 

Huh, interesting, a regular season game that actually matters. I guess the play-in tournament is working. 

About Nick Bartlett 111 Articles
Hello there ya wild rabbits. My name is Nick Bartlett and I’m a sportswriter, broadcast manager, and youth basketball coach. I’m from the Greater Seattle Area and a graduate of the Edward R. Murrow school at Washington State University. I’ve had over 50 articles and 10 podcasts published in Seattle PI, and my work featured on OregonLive, SportsPac12, and South Florida Tribune. You can contact me at NB206wsu@gmail.com or on twitter @WordsByBartlett. Cheetos and Tuna.

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