Despite the truncated 2020-21 season, the NBA decided to move forward with the Play-In Tournament that debuted in the Orlando bubble during the 2020 NBA playoffs.
The Portland Trail Blazers and Memphis Grizzlies were the inaugural teams to fight for the eighth seed in the Western Conference, which turned out to be one of the most exciting and thrilling games of the bubble. For the 2020-21 campaign, the ninth and tenth seeds of each conference got to play at least two games against their respective conference’s seventh or eighth seed to earn a playoff spot.
The NBA had to be thrilled this year as the Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors found themselves in the Play-In Tournament and eventually became the most watched game on ESPN since 2019. The Lakers narrowly beat the Warriors thanks to a difficult go-ahead 3-pointer from LeBron James, who was dealing with blurry vision after being poked in the eye by Draymond Green.
With the tournament providing so much excitement, the NBA and NBPA have reportedly agreed to keep it for the upcoming 2021-22 season, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
The NBA’s playoff play-in tournament format will return for the 2021-2022 season, sources told ESPN on Friday.
The NBA and Players Association agreed to extend the play-in concept for next year, pending an expected approval of the league’s Board of Governors at an August meeting, sources said.
The Play-In Tournament helped spur more anticipation and hype for the playoffs and the fans’ enthusiastic response to the games made it an easy decision to the concept going. The tournament also kept more teams engaged throughout the regular season while also de-incentivizing tanking in the process.
The added revenue from the Play-In is also a major factor here as the league is still recouping its losses after the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic put last season on hiatus for more than four months. The NBA prides itself on continuing to add intrigue to the game of basketball, and hopefully the Play-In Tournament is here to stay for the long haul.
Lakers open with second-best odds to win 2021-22 NBA Championship
Despite entering the first round as the favorites, the Lakers ultimately lost to the Phoenix Suns in six games. Despite the setback, Los Angeles opened the offseason with the second-best odds to win the 2021-22 NBA Championship behind the Brooklyn Nets.
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