Home Featured News Preview of the NBA 2020-21 Play-In Tournament and Playoffs

Preview of the NBA 2020-21 Play-In Tournament and Playoffs

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The Los Angeles Lakers' Anthony Davis, middle, drives to the basket between the New Orleans Pelicans' Josh Hart and J.J. Redick in the first quarter at Staples Center in Los Angeles on Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020. (Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

By Anthony Clark Jr.

After months of disagreement and occasional positive feedback from players, coaches, and veteran sports analysts, the National Basketball Association (NBA) will commence its first ever play-in tournament.

The NBA Board of Governors and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver decided the heavily scrutinized tournament was necessary to minimize the number of teams from “tanking” (purposely losing a bulk of games to increase chances of better draft picks) during the last few weeks of the regular season. With this new format, teams that typically fail to reach the necessary seeding positions for the playoffs will have a chance to redeem themselves by securing the seventh and eighth seeds for both the Eastern and Western Conferences in the tournament.

For a clearer understanding, the following format is set to occur during the newly added tournament:

Eastern Conference

  • No. 7 Boston Celtics vs. No. 8 Washington Wizards
  • No. 9 Indiana Pacers vs. No. 10 Charlotte Hornets

The winner of the first game will automatically clinch the seventh seed in the playoffs, as the loser of the match will face the winner of the second match, thus determining the eighth and final seed for the playoffs.

The same rules will apply to the other side of the league:

Western Conference

  • No. 7 Los Angeles Lakers vs. No. 8 Golden State Warriors
  • No. 9 Memphis Grizzlies vs. No 10. San Antonio Spurs

Silver explained his consideration of permanently implementing the tournament to Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated.

“I do see this (play-in tournament) as something we would embrace going forward,” Silver said. “…We saw this as an opportunity to institute a form of it. I’m not sure if this would be the exact format going forward. But this is something we’d like to see stay.”

A handful of players and team owners do not agree with adding more games to an already lengthy season. The question as to whether or not the regular season should be shortened has been speculated for a fair amount of time, and the historical 72-day intermission between the NBA 2019-20 season and 2020-21 season persuaded league officials to bring the current season from the normal 82-game regular season to 72 games. With the 10-game decrease, league organizations were inclined to believe they would have more time to recover from the already extensive season to prepare for the postseason if applicable.

The tournament is scheduled to commence Tuesday, May 18, at 6:30 p.m. Updates regarding match times can be found on the NBA webpage. Spectators can watch the first two tournament games on the TNT television channel.

With the conclusion of the play-in tournament, the NBA playoffs will continue as normal on Saturday, May 22.