Thursday’s NBA action represented one of the most exciting days around the Association in years. Most of the 16 playoff teams had already clinched a playoff spot inside the Walt Disney World bubble.
However, multiple squads out west were looking to reach the play-in tournament scheduled for this weekend.
It’s an oddity of the 2019-20 NBA schedule after the season was suspended back on March 11. The Association wanted as many viable teams to return to the season in Orlando as a way to create an exciting product.
That’s exactly what we saw on Thursday. The Grizzlies, Blazers, Suns and Spurs were all battling for the two spots in the play-in tournament.
It came down to Brooklyn Nets guard Caris LeVert missing a potential game-winning shot late Thursday evening to set up a Blazers-Grizzlies play-in tournament. It was the very same game that saw Damian Lillard break the modern NBA record for the most points (154) in a three-game stretch.
The backdrop here was a Suns team that missed out on the playoffs despite winning each of its eight games in Orlando. There’s also more information coming from the Association as it relates to this.
NBA is looking into permanent play-in games for the playoffs
“I do see this as something we would embrace going forward,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver told Sports Illustrated. “As you know I’ve been talking about it for a while. 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.”
There’s a whole heck of a lot to like about this idea. If more teams have an opportunity to earn a playoff spot, it would create a situation in which tanking would be less prevalent. That’s one of the reasons the NBA is considering altering its format.
From a competitive standpoint, a team like the Blazers actually stands a chance against the championship-favored Los Angeles Lakers. History could also tell us a story of a play-in tournament being exciting for NBA fans.
Back in 2018-19, the Charlotte Hornets and Miami Heat were both within two games of the eighth-seed Detroit Pistons. Could, say, Miami have made a better first-round opponent for the Bucks than Detroit? The Pistons were ultimately swept out in a series that lacked competitiveness.
Back in 2017-18, the up-and-coming Denver Nuggets were within one game of the Minnesota Timberwolves for the eighth seed. Minnesota ended up losing to Houston in five games.
Those are just two examples of how this potential format could make the rest of the regular season and the early rounds of the playoffs more interesting to the masses.