Excitement is still alive at this time of the season in the NBA mid table, as several teams battle to secure a spot in the Playoffs. There is certainly an extra incentive this year: the ‘Play-in’, a new format that has generated controversial. Let´s analyze it.

What is it about?

We can define the Play-in as a previous “mini-tournament” to the Playoffs that will face the 7th, 8th, 8th and 10th in the table from each conference. There are two games: the first one will be between the 7th vs the 8th and the second one between the 9th and the 10th.

The winner from the first game will automatically access to the Playoffs. The looser still have another chance, as they will play against the winner between the 9th and 10th. This way, the 7th and the 8th will have to loose two games in a row in order to not make it to the Playoffs.

When does it take place?

Regular season ends May 16th. We will now by then which teams will play these games, which will take place between the 18th and 21st of May. The Playoffs will start once the Play-in is over on May 22nd.

Which teams will play it?

There are currently ten teams that have secured a spot in the Playoffs: Utah Jazz, Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Clippers, and Denver Nuggets on the Western Conference; Brooklyn Nets, Philadelphia 76ersMilwaukee Bucks, Atlanta Hawks, Miami Heat and the New York Knicks on the Eastern Conference. This would be the ‘Play-in’ as it stands now:

Western Conference: Los Angeles Lakers (7th) vs the Golden State Warriors (8th) and the Memphis Grizzlies (9th) vs the San Antonio Spurs (10th).

Eastern Conference: Boston Celtics (7th) vs the Charlotte Hornets (8th) and the Indiana Pacers (9th) vs the Washington Wizards (10th).

Why do LeBron James and Doncic criticize it?

The new format has created some controversy. Players like Luka Doncic, Draymond Green and LeBron James are the ones who have criticized it the most. The Dallas Mavericks point guard and the franchise owner Mark Cuban believe that it is an unfair format: “I don’t understand the idea of a play-in. 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”. LeBron James went beyond: “Whoever came up with that shit needs to be fired”.

“Whoever came up with that shit needs to be fired”

LeBron James on the new Play-in format

However, there have been others who support the Play-in system. Reggie Miller, the Indiana Pacers legend, replied to these players´ comments: “Where was all this talk a month ago? Two months ago? When the Lakers, when Boston, the Dallas, they were securely one of the top six teams. Now they’re on the outside, possibly looking in… there’s a little bit of crying”.

“There is a little bit of crying”

Reggie Miller on LeBron and Doncic´s criticisms

My position on this debate is on Miller´s side. The Lakers and the Mavericks are two teams that are affected for the Play-in, but this debate should have come up months ago and not now as they are forced to play two games in order to make it to the Playoffs. Lakers have not had a great season mostly because of the injuries and the Mavs have not either performed as expected. I think that the Play-in makes the Playoffs more exciting and is also useful to stimulate those franchises that are in mid-table so they do not relax and always give their best level.

Translated by Guillermo Bermejo.

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