Sports Take: NBA should abolish Play-In Tournament

Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant (7) drives to the basket against the Cleveland Cavaliers during the second half of an NBA basketball game Friday April 8, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

By Gio Gennero | Sports Writer

The NBA Play-In Tournament is dumb. Maybe it made sense the first year when the league was put on hold for COVID-19 and they were forced into the bubble. However, keeping it around isn’t good and the league should revise the current playoff setting.

Losing should not be rewarded, so why should a team who didn’t even win 40 games get a chance to overtake a team that did. For example, right now the San Antonio Spurs are in the Play-In, and so are the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Spurs won 12 less games and are three seeds lower, but still have a chance to make the playoffs over the Wolves. I am the biggest Spurs fan, but it’s obvious they should be a lottery team, not a potential playoff team.

The original playoff formatting was fine, if changes were going to be made they made the wrong ones. I believe the NBA should completely do away with the Play-In, and instead of reverting back to the former — which is still better — here are a few changes I think they should try out.

The first change is conferences. I have always thought it would be great for basketball if instead of the top eight teams from each conference, its the top 16 teams in basketball. Not only does it ensure the playoffs are truly the best teams, it makes for even more interesting matchups. Part of what makes March Madness so interesting and chaotic is the random matchups between teams that are unfamiliar with each other. Imagine the matchups if there were no conferences in the playoffs. There’s a bigger chance we wouldn’t have gotten robbed of a Kobe Bryant versus Lebron James playoff series. We could also get matchups like Joel Embiid versus Nikola Jokic and even smaller matchups that would be simply fun to watch such as Ja Morant versus Trae Young. A series between the Atlanta Hawks and the Memphis Grizzlies would be one of the most enjoyable series to watch.

Another change that should be made, is the addition of a win requirement. If a team is below .500, it should not be in the playoffs. There were 18 teams this season that won half of their games or more, and those are the teams that are deserving of a playoff berth. A franchise that can’t win half of its games should not be competing for a title.

I love my Spurs as much as anyone, but they are 12 games behind the eighth seed and only 14 games ahead of the worst record in the league. The Play-In should not exist and should have been tossed in the trash alongside the bubble.