Report: NBA to permanently adopt play-in tournaments

LA Clippers v Minnesota Timberwolves - Play-In Tournament
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The NBA adopted a play-in for the 2020 bubble. The league then introduced a larger play-in tournament for the 2020-21 season. The same play-in-tournament format was used again in 2021-22.

Already, the play-in tournaments feel like a regular part of the NBA calendar.

But they have been approved only on a year-to-year basis.

That’ll soon change, though.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

The play-in tournaments have been a rousing success. They increase interest in the regular season and create six high-stakes games to begin the postseason.

The biggest ongoing step for getting everyone onboard with the play-in tournament: People realizing the teams that finish with the seventh- and eighth-best records in each conference aren’t entitled to playoff berths. Just because they were from 1984-2019 doesn’t mean they still should be. Teams must now finish top six to directly qualify for the playoffs. It’s a higher bar, which places greater emphasis on the regular season – which is generally welcomed.

There are also significant advantages to entering the play-in tournament as the No. 7 seed rather than No. 8 seed, No. 8 seed rather than No. 9 seed, No. 9 seed rather than No. 10 seed. Again, that adds welcome intrigue to the regular season.

The NBA was always headed toward permanently instituting play-in tournaments. The Timberwolves’ overjoyed play-in celebration and Pelicans’ satisfying rise from the basement – through the play-in tournament – into the playoffs only added momentum.

As for the league’s desired other tournament, an in-season tournament… that’s a tougher sell.