NBA, NBPA Reportedly Agree to Extend Play-in Tournament Through 2021-22 Season

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVJuly 16, 2021

AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

The NBA postseason play-in tournament will reportedly remain in place for at least one more season.

According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the NBA and National Basketball Players Association have agreed to extend the play-in tournament through the 2021-22 season, and the NBA Board of Governors will make it official through a vote in the near future.

The play-in tournament was first instituted during the 2019-20 season as a means of leveling the playing field after the campaign was halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The NBA and NBPA then decided to keep it in place for the 2020-21 season as well.

When the play-in tournament was instituted for the 2019-20 season, it was determined that a series would be played between the No. 8 and No. 9 seeds in either conference if the ninth seed was within four games of the eighth seed.

That happened in the Western Conference with the Portland Trail Blazers as the eighth seed and the Memphis Grizzlies as the ninth seed.

Portland needed to win only one game to secure the No. 8 seed, while Memphis needed to win two. Since the Blazers prevailed in the first game, they clinched a playoff berth.

The play-in tournament was changed for this season with the Nos. 7 through 10 seeds in each conference taking part.

Under that format, the seventh seed faced the eighth seed with the winner clinching the No. 7 seed. Also, the ninth seed and 10th seed played a game with the loser getting eliminated.

The loser of the No. 7 vs. No. 8 game and winner of the No. 9 vs. No. 10 game then played a win-or-go-home game with the winner earning the eighth seed.

Through that process, the Los Angeles Lakers and Grizzlies earned the seventh and eighth seeds, respectively, in the West, and the Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards secured the seventh and eighth seeds, respectively, in the East.

The play-in tournament received mixed reviews this past season, with fans and the league on one side and players on the other.

Fans enjoyed the addition of more meaningful games, and the NBA was undoubtedly happy to put more important games on television in the name of higher ratings.

LeBron James, who led the Lakers to the seventh seed through the play-in tournament, said whoever came up with the play-in concept "needs to be fired," per ESPN's Dave McMenamin.

Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic also ripped the play-in, saying he didn't "see the point" of doing it after already having a 72-game season, according to ESPN's Tim MacMahon.

Despite some of the NBA's biggest stars having an issue with the play-in tournament, it is here to stay for at least one more season and perhaps beyond if it continues to bring the NBA strong ratings and increased revenue.


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