The NBA introduced a momentous novelty a year ago for the restart of the 2019-20 season in the Walt Disney World bubble: the play-in. After many rumors about possible changes and tests with the format, the classic table was maintained for the knockouts (East and West, all rounds to the best of seven games), But it was decided to add fuel to the fire with a previous round that gave more franchises options to finally be in the fight for the ring. And it worked: the excitement literally lasted until the last second of the Blazers-Nets, the last game involving the teams fighting for that play-in. Given the results, the organization led by Adam Silver has decided to maintain the format for this course. Next, its operation and the dates of celebration.
How does play-in work?
The new format only involves those teams that, during the regular phase, have finished from 7th to 10th place in each of the Conferences (East and West). Between them, two different series will be generated to a match: one between the 7th and 8th and the other between the 9th and 10th classified of each Conference, regardless of the distance that separates them in the table.
– The winner of the match between 7th and 8th will obtain the classification automatic for the playoffs in their respective conference.
– The loser of that match will be local to the winner of the 9th and 10th, and the winner of this new meeting will be the 8th classified for the playoffs in their respective Conference.
Thus, the 7th or 8th classified would have to lose two games in a row to run out of playoff options and he would hardly have to impose himself on one to seal his participation.
When and where are the games played?
The play-in for the 2020-21 basketball course will be held between May 18 and 21 in the pavilion of the team that, during the regular phase, finished higher in the standings.
The precedent: the Orlando bubble
Until last season, the top eight teams in each conference qualified for the playoffs for the NBA title. In that exceptional end of the 2019-20 season, the NBA introduced the noveltyIf the ninth ended the exceptional seeding games four wins or less behind the eighth, both (eighth and ninth) would meet to play the last ticket to the playoffs. In the East it was not necessary last year, but this year it will have this previous one, which does not depend on the difference between games. Only nine teams arrived in Florida (the top eight from each Conference and those who were six wins or less from the eighth on each side) and the ninth, the Wizards, only won one game in the bubble (1-7), the last and inconsequential against the Celtics. And they finished seven and a half games behind eighth, the Orlando Magic.
But in the West there was a battle and a play-in. The Pelicans and the Kings were eliminated first. And on the last day the San Antonio Spurs and Phoenix Suns (with Ricky Rubio) said goodbye. The Blazers finished eighth (35-39) with only a percentage difference to the Memphis Grizzlies (34-39). They are eighth and ninth, so they played the first play-in in NBA history. The Blazers prevailed last year. In this, the NBA has decided to increase the team from two to four.