Adam Silver on NBA Play-In Tournament: It's No Secret That I Want It Around Long-Term

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIMay 21, 2021

FILE - In this Oct. 4, 2020, file photo, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver does an interview before Game 3 of basketball's NBA Finals in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Sports got taken down a notch in 2020. The lights went out in mid-March, soon after Silver flipped a circuit-breaker on the season. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File

The NBA play-in tournament will wrap up Friday when the Memphis Grizzlies visit the Golden State Warriors, with the winner moving on to the Western Conference playoffs.

When asked about the play-in tournament Friday, Silver said he wants it around long-term. He spoke about it during an appearance on Keyshawn, JWill and Zubin on ESPN Radio (h/t ESPN's Tim Bontemps):

"I haven't made any secret that I want it to be [around long term]. I have two constituencies I need to convince of that. One is the 30 teams, and I think for the most part they've supported it. Again, I understand the sentiment if I were a team—a 7-seed in particular—the notion [that] after a long season, you could potentially play out of the playoffs. I understand those feelings. I think at the same time, the teams recognize the amount of additional interest we've created over the last month of the season plus those play-in games make it worth it."

There was plenty of interest in the Warriors-Los Angeles Lakers play-in game Wednesday, which drew an average of 5.6 million viewers and peaked at 6.1 million late in the Lakers' 103-100 win.

Granted, that matchup featured the game's two top stars in Lakers forward LeBron James and Warriors guard Stephen Curry, but the dramatic win-and-in tilt wouldn't have taken place without the play-in format.

As Bontemps noted, though, Silver could tweak the competition, which involves the Nos. 7-10 seeds in each conference fighting for two spots apiece. He said the tournament could be a touch unfair to the No. 7 seed in particular:

"Of course, the other constituency is the players. For example, one player, who is on the executive committee of the union, said to me yesterday that he really likes the play-in tournament but he felt it could potentially be a bit unfair. For example, if you were the seventh seed and you were a significant number of games ahead of the 8-seed, the notion that you could somehow lose two games and be out of the playoffs seems unfair."

For example, the 42-30 Lakers finished well ahead of the 33-39 San Antonio Spurs, but San Antonio could have made the playoffs if it won two games, and L.A. could've been left out if it lost two games.

Still, the interest is evident, and there has been plenty of drama.

The Warriors-Lakers game was one of the best matchups of the season, and Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum delivered an epic 50-point performance in a 118-100 play-in win over the Washington Wizards on Tuesday.

Not everyone is a fan, but the format seems like a positive, even if some things need to be adjusted for the future.