If the NBA playoffs started today, the Dallas Mavericks would have to face the Memphis Grizzlies in a one-game play-in game, with the winner getting the seven seed in the West (which is where Dallas sits now, by record). If the Mavericks lost that game, they would face the winner of a Spurs/Warriors matchup in another play-in game, with the winner getting the eighth seed and the loser going home.
It’s the NBA’s new play-in games, which debuted in the bubble and are back for this NBA season.
“I don’t understand the idea of a play-in,” Doncic said… “You play 72 games to get into the playoffs, then maybe you lose two in a row and you’re out of the playoffs. So I don’t see the point of that.”
This echoes Draymond Green‘s comments that the play-in games don’t motivate him.
One would think that an 82 — or, this season, 72 — game season would be enough to earn a playoff spot or not. But Adam Silver has wanted this and the NBA owners approved it because it accomplishes a few goals — all of them related to more money for the league.
• It gives the NBA’s television partners a series of win-or-you’re-out games to broadcast at the end of the regular season, games that likely will draw big viewership.
• It gives a few teams more gate revenue from extra games.
• It keeps a few fan bases (and a few owners) interested in chasing the play-in rather than feeling there was no hope of making the playoffs.
• For some owners, it would discourage tanking because they would chase the play-in.
Whether the play-in is here to stay remains to be seen, but because it will generate more money expect it to stick around. The NBA is still a business first and foremost.
That doesn’t mean the players have to like it.