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Eugene Adams

Did the Lakers just prove the NBA right about the play-in tournament?

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Eugene Adams
Eugene Adams
 27 days ago
Photo by Бодьсанал Boogie on Unsplash

Playoff time is usually fun in Los Angeles. 

This year is a little different, though. Typically the defending champions make the playoff easily. That was not the case with this year’s Lakers. 

Lebron and Anthony Davis missed significant chunks of time this season. That led to a 42–30 regular-season record and the 7th seed in the west. 

Unfortunately, the 7th seed doesn’t automatically make the playoffs anymore. This meant that they had to win in the play-in tournament just to get back to the postseason. 

What is a Play-in Tournament?

The play-in tournament was a new idea from last year’s bubble. It was popular enough to stick around this season.

Normally the teams 1–8 from each conference automatically make the playoffs. Now only 1–6 automatically qualify. 

Teams 7–10 need to go through the play-in tournament to qualify.

#7 plays against #8 in one game while #9 and #10 play in the other. 

The winner of 7 vs. 8 is in the playoffs (7th seed). The loser of that game must play the winner of 9 vs. 10 for the last playoff spot (8th seed).

Sound complicated?

I’ll try to simplify. 

The 7th and 8th place teams only need to win one game to make the playoffs. The 9th and 10th place teams need to win two games. 

Why the Change?

Why the change?

Simple, more money. 

The NBA essentially gets two more “playoff games” in each conference for fans to watch. 

It also makes the end of the regular season more exciting. 

The difference between the 6th and 7th seed is enormous now. It also gives the fans of “bad” teams more reason to keep watching longer. 

The 11th and 12th place teams aren’t eliminated from the playoffs until very late in the season. 

This season the 33–39 Spurs made the play-in tournament. Normally a 33–39 team in the west would be eliminated with about a month to go in the regular season. 

The 11th and 12th place teams this year were both 31–41 (Pelicans and Kings). Both teams were in the running for the playoffs until the very end. 

Also, the NCAA already does something similar, and it works well. 

Lakers Proved The NBA Right

Lebron hates the idea of the play-in tournament

Unfortunately for him, he may have helped ensure the tournament is here to stay. 

Curry vs. Lebron in an important game is a marquee matchup. This tournament gave fans that matchup without needing to wait for a game 7. 

The fact that the game went down to the end made it even more amazing for the fans. 

It’s hard to see the NBA scrapping the idea after this. 

Lakers in the Playoffs

Despite the up and down, injury-filled season, the Los Angeles Lakers are back in the playoffs. 

Lakers survived,100–103, despite 37 points from Curry. 

Lebron sealed the win with around a minute left by drilling a deep 3. 

The Lakers move on to face the # 2 seeded Pheonix Suns. 

The Warriors will play Memphis next. The winner will get the 8th and final playoff spot in the west. 

My Thoughts

I think the play-in tournament was a complete success. As a Laker fan, it sucked having to sweat it, but it was still exciting. 

In the end, all is well that ends well. 

Los Angeles will have plenty of good basketball to watch coming up. The #4 Clippers and #7 Lakers are both legit contenders. 

Will we finally see an L.A. vs. L.A. playoff series?

If the Los Angeles Lakers repeat as champions, they will be the lowest seed to do so (7th). That distinction is currently held by the 1995 Rockets (6th).