Adam Silver wants NBA play-in to stay
NBA commissioner Adam Silver said he hoped to see the league’s play-in tournament continue next season despite criticism of the new format by some players and team owners.
The league adopted the play-in — a mini-tournament between teams ranked from seventh to 10th in each conference to determine the final two playoff spots — during the pandemic-disrupted 2020 season.
The NBA used the format again this year after the regular season was shortened because of the compressed off-season.
While the format has proven popular — Wednesday’s play-in game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors was the most-watched NBA game on ESPN since 2019 — not everyone is a fan.
Lakers star LeBron James criticized the format earlier this month while Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said his initial support for the format change had been an “enormous mistake.”
Silver however told ESPN Radio on Friday that he hoped the play-in would return, pointing out it had sustained interest in the regular season with more teams in the running for a possible playoff spot.
“I haven’t made any secret that I want it to be around long term,” Silver told ESPN, adding that he needed to convince teams and players to fully back the change.
“I understand the sentiment if I were a team — a seven-seed in particular — the notion after a long season, you could potentially play out of the playoffs.
“I think at the same time, the teams recognize the amount of additional interest we’ve created over the last month of the season plus those play-in games make it worth it.”
Silver said players had expressed mixed feelings to him over the play-in.
“One player, who is on the executive committee of the union, said to me yesterday that he really likes the play-in tournament but he felt it could potentially be a bit unfair,” Silver said.
“For example, if you were the seventh seed and you were a significant number of games ahead of the eighth-seed, the notion that you could somehow lose two games and be out of the playoffs seems unfair.”
But Silver added that the play-in had encouraged more teams to play hard through to the end of the regular season.
“I think the play-in tournament had an impact … causing teams who frankly otherwise may have thrown in the towel some number of weeks back to fight for those last playoff spots,” he said.
The Washington Wizards and Boston Celtics emerged from the Eastern Conference play-in to take the seventh and eighth seeds, while in the Western Conference, the Lakers have claimed the seventh seed.
The Warriors face the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday to determine the eighth seed from the West.