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NBA Play-In Tournament

(David Berding/Getty Images)

The NBA Play-In Tournament Is a Waste of Time

NBA Play-In Tournament
(David Berding/Getty Images)

The NBA Play-In Tournament Is a Waste of Time

Kenyon Martin Sr. is one of many NBA players, past and present, to voice their displeasure with the play-in format. I can’t say I’m a fan of it either. The NBA Play-In Tournament is a needless waste of time.

The NBA’s play-in games give the No. 9 and No. 10 seeds in each conference a chance to play their way into the playoffs. They also mean the No. 7 and No. 8 seeds are not completely safe at the end of the regular season. However, higher seeds still have an advantage because they only need to win one game to make the playoffs. Lower seeds have to win twice. This season, two No. 9 seeds managed to do just that with the Atlanta Hawks and New Orleans Pelicans both securing the No. 8 seed in their respective conference.

No one seems to realize how manufactured it all is. The Minnesota Timberwolves and their fans went viral for celebrating their play-in victory. However, in the old format they would have simply made the playoffs without having to jeopardize their entire season. Good on the Minnesota faithful for celebrating a well-deserved playoff berth, but they were cheated in a sense too, having to put an entire season of work on the line for some fabricated drama.

Competitive Doesn’t Equal Good or Necessary

“yOu dON’t WAnT mOre cOmPetiTive bASkEtbaLL?” People love to bring up that getting more elimination basketball is a good thing. Just because something is competitive doesn’t make it good. The Detroit Pistons and Sacramento Kings would probably be pretty competitive! Why don’t we let them play in a bootleg playoff game?

At what point does it end? Under the current format, the No. 11 and No. 12 seeds just barely miss out. That isn’t fair to them, right? There’s always going to be a team that just misses. The point of the 82-game season is to figure out which teams deserve to be in the playoffs. We don’t need more games.

The play-in format was a good solution for a COVID season where extenuating circumstances made it necessary to give some borderline teams a shot at the playoffs. Maybe a team’s best player was out for COVID-19 protocols and missed a chunk of games that put the team on the wrong side of the standings. I can get behind that. It was a weird year. Why are we still doing this? Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban brought up issues with scheduling and fatigue, suggesting maybe we don’t need the play-in at all.

I think it’s sad that fans now have to celebrate these made-up situations where their team should already be secure in the playoffs. 82 games is absolutely sufficient to figure out who the playoff teams are, especially now that the NBA season isn’t being completely ravaged by COVID. The NBA is a very innovative league, but the play-in tournament is a miss.

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