Highlander Hot Take: The NBA Play-In Tournament is a great addition to the NBA Postseason.

By: Hansel Chu, Assistant Sports Editor

The NBA Play-In Tournament was introduced by the commissioner Adam Silver in 2020, where the 7th to 10th seeded teams from both conferences play in a win-or-go-home format to decide who gets a bid to the playoffs. In the Play-In Tournament, the 7th and 8th seeded teams play each other for the rights for the 7th seed. The 9th and 10th seeded teams play each other to keep their playoff hopes alive.Then, the winner of the 9th/10th seeded game will take on the loser of the 7th/8th seed game for the rights of the 8th seed. Although some people will criticize the Play-In Tournament because it might be unfair to the higher ranked teams to have to play extra games or because the lower seeded teams do not deserve to have a chance for the playoffs, the Play-In Tournament brings a whole new level of excitement and anticipation for the playoffs. 

Photo by CWEB News via Flickr

In the past two years, the Play-In Tournament has given fans countless games that have gone down to the wire. For example, last season’s games between the Lakers and Warriors and  between the Warriors and Grizzlies had many fans on the edge of their seats, hoping their teams would have a chance to get to the playoffs. In this year’s tournament, the Cavaliers versus Hawks game and the Clippers vs Pelicans game all had thrilling finishes which left fans eager for the playoffs to start. The Play-In Tournament is like an appetizer for the playoffs. If the appetizer is satisfying and good, people will be eager for their main course because of how good the appetizer is. Just like an appetizer, the intensity and quality of the Play-In Tournament serves as a preview of the greatness that is bound to happen in the playoffs. 

The Play-In Tournament also gives younger and lesser-known teams playoff experience. Younger teams usually find themselves in the lower half of the standings, which makes it hard for them to gain playoff exposure because of how tight and competitive the NBA is nowadays. The Play-In Tournament solves that issue by putting these younger and inexperienced players into playoff situations and atmospheres. This exposure can greatly develop younger teams as they will be more ready and experienced when it comes to clutch situations and pressure. A great example of this is the Memphis Grizzlies. Last year, the Grizzlies were in the Play-In Tournament as the 9th seed and were able to defeat the Spurs and the Warriors in some tightly contested matches to get into the playoffs. This season, the Grizzlies made an enormous leap and finished with the second best record in the entire NBA. A big reason for their rapid improvement was mainly because of the experience that they received from the Play-In Tournament a season ago.

Although the Play-In Tournament does bring some criticism from fans regarding the fairness of standings and the quality of teams, logically speaking, the 7th and 8th seeded teams should be able to make it to the playoffs, and they can prove to be deserving of a playoff bid by beating the lesser opponent in the 9th or the 10th seeded teams. The Play-In Tournament brings more entertainment and excitement to the fans and raises the stakes a lot higher for teams that are on the border of the playoff standings. The NBA should continue to implement the Play-In Tournament as it adds a little bit of a March Madness feeling that many fans love to experience.

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