For those not familiar the seven, eight, nine and ten seeds within each conference play in the play-in games. Seven and eight play each other while nine and ten play each other. The loser of nine and ten goes home. The winner of nine and ten play the loser of seven and eight for the eighth seed. Winners of seven and eight get the seventh seed.
I set this all up because after the Mavericks lost to the 76ers Luka Doncic had some comments. Luka was asked about the play-in games and he says that he does not like the play-in format. He does not understand why after seventy-two games of an entire season that two losses and two losses only could end your season. There are two sides to this format. Is it good for the league or is it unfair to teams like the Dallas Mavericks who at the time were the seventh seed in an extremely loaded West Conference.
The NBA play-in tournament allows for more narrative storylines and involvement around the league because NBA fans are going to be talking about the lower part of the Eastern Conference and Western Conference. This creates interest in each of those markets, fanbases and organizations which allows for more interest in the league and more dollars for everyone. In the national media, discussion is really only centered around the headline teams. This format allows for other teams to enter those conversations.
Now for Luka or the eventual seventh seed. You are in the pole position as the seventh spot, just win ONE GAME AT HOME. If not, there is a way out of that spot by finishing in the top six of the conference. If Luka is bothered by this format just go out and win some more games. I have a feeling that Luka would not be so against the play-in tournament if his team was in the ten spot. If this was football they would call the play-in tournament wildcard weekend.
If you look at the NBA standings, Washington is in a pretty good spot with a game and a half lead over the Chicago Bulls. When is the last time somebody said Washington and playoffs? Prime John Wall? Right now there are twenty-two teams excluding the Sacramento Kings and the Toronto Raptors who if this was college basketball would be the first two out. There are currently twenty-two teams in the hunt as opposed to sixteen, seventeen, or eighteen teams that we traditionally have. That is twenty-two fanbases.
As someone who is a die-easy Knicks Fan that means the Knicks are very likely going to play at least one playoff game and you know what? One is more than Zero. Now all of a sudden the New York fanbase is energized, capacity based on covid is going to be filled, and this is going to create dollars for the league. The NBA play-in tournament is one of the greatest decisions in the history of the NBA.