The NBA Play-In Tournament – Everything You Need to Know

NBA Play-In Tournament
NBA Play-In Tournament 2021

The NBA Play-In Tournament Will Be Exciting

What is the 2021 NBA Play-In Tournament? Mark your calendars for May 18. It is going to be a historic day for the NBA postseason. The first year of the play-in tournament being a thing, and it opens on that day. It will last for several days, with six total games being played between the two conferences.

Let’s break it down, so you can all be enlightened before the end of the 2021 NBA season.

The Format

So, to start things out in the NBA play-in tournament, the seventh- through 10th-place teams in each conference will be matched up against one another. Seventh place plays against eighth place, and ninth place plays against 10th place.

The winner of the 7-8 matchup will automatically clinch a spot in the postseason. Boom, done.

The loser of that game faces the winner of the 9-10 battle, with the loser finding their way back home.

The winner of that second game is going to take the other playoff spot in the conference. No team will play more than two games, but if you come away with a loss as the seventh- or eighth-place team, a quick hook and then the year comes to an end for you.

We saw the Grizzlies last year lose the initial game to Portland, unable to force a win-or-go-home game in the process.


When’s It Happening?

The NBA’s play-in tournament will begin two days after the end of the regular season. Things are going to get going on May 18, and the excitement is palpable.

Things in the East are a bit tighter than the West, but the Pelicans are still clinging to some hope that they can overtake one of the teams that are teetering on the edge of the Western Conference standings.

We will likely see both Portland and Memphis in the play-in for the second year in a row. This year’s format is a bit different than last year, but the Grizzlies have got to feel slighted.

They were the eighth-place team at the start of the bubble and were usurped in the eight games that teams played. Now, they need to find magic again. On the bright side, Jaren Jackson Jr. is back.

Is It Here to Stay?

Of course, the new format of the play-in tournament is a prototype. This is something that was done to discourage tanking and allow more teams to play meaningful games in the waning times of the season. That puts us where we are now, awaiting the playing of the games and the 2021 NBA Playoffs.

Rumors have been swirling that the format could be permanent. The Mavericks are not happy to possibly be in it, according to owner Mark Cuban.

But if you had up to eight or nine teams trying to lose on purpose for a few weeks, the level of competition would dip. This enables more players to have opportunities to compete on the larger stage.

The winners of the play-in style are the top two seeds in each conference. Their first-round opponents are the ones competing for the spots.

They’ll be able to do a little extra scouting and prep, seeing how the teams can do in high-stakes games.