NBA Play-In-Tournament: What is it, rules and how does it work?

The end of a shortened NBA regular season is nearing, and we're on the verge of breaking ground with a brand new format leading up to the playoffs.

NBA Play-In-Tournamnet to debut at the end of this regular season

The NBA Playoffs will have a different look about them this year. The shortened season provoked by Covid has allowed Adam Silver and schedule makers to get creative with which teams enter the post season. What they produced is something we have never seen before.

A mini-March Madness type tourney in between the end of the regular season and the start of the playoffs awaits us .

A brand new playoff format to debut after shortened regular season

After the Covid interruption last season, the league resumed but NBA teams restricted to “The Bubble” in Walt Disney World. The Lakers took the title back to LA for the first time since 2010 in a season that didn’t end until mid October.

An abbreviated offseason, and and even shorter preseason saw the 2020-21 campaign tip off pushed back to December 22nd. A delayed start meant games would be have to be cut from the schedule, and some experiments could be put in place.

The normally 82 game slate was slashed to 72 games, with each team playing conference opponents three times (42 games) and non conference teams twice (30 games).

Play-In-Tournament to determine the final seeds in the East and the West

The most dramatic change to the format of the season was the induction of the Play-In-Tournament.

Much like European soccer, or football depending in which part of the world you’re reading from, there is a tournament before the tournament. The UEFA Champions League has preliminary rounds that determine who will make the group stages (the first round of the actual tournament). This will be no different.

In the NBA’s case, instead of the top eight seeds from each conference qualifying for the postseason, it will be the 7-10 seeds from each conference battling for the final spots to enter the playoffs.

Some, including NBA stars, aren't fans of the new system

The structure of the tournament as defined by the is as follows “At the conclusion of the regular season but before the first round of the playoffs, the team with the 7th-highest winning percentage in each conference will host the team with the 8th-highest winning percentage in a Play-In Game (the “Seven-Eight Game”). The winner of the Seven-Eight Game in each conference will earn the No. 7 seed.

The team with the 9th-highest winning percentage in each conference will host the team with the 10th-highest winning percentage in the “Nine-Ten Game”. The loser of the Seven-Eight Game will host the winner of the Nine-Ten Game in a Play-In Game, and the winner of that game in each conference will earn the No. 8 seed.”

There are some around the league who aren’t too excited of about the prospect of the having to play in a play in tournament. LeBron James criticized the new format saying “whoever came up with that shit needs to be fired, but whatever."

The tournamnet will run from the May 18th to May 21st with the first round playoffs starting just a day later.