In the little that remains of the season, the debate is no longer going to be deterred. Play-in yes or play-in no. The answer, surely, depends mainly on the shirt with which it is answered. The new qualifying format for the NBA playoffs, released in the Orlando bubble and adapted to the current season, opens new doors for a space that has not been expanded: to enter one, another must leave. No Marx Brothers. For 9th and 10th classified it is a blessing; for 7th and 8th, a torture. For this reason, and as the moment of truth approaches, these last implicated have been raising their voices. Luka Doncic and Mark Cuban were the first. “I don’t understand the idea of playing it. You play 72 games to get into the playoffs, then you lose two in a row and you’re already out. I don’t see the point in this,” said the Slovenian player. “The play-in is a huge mistake,” added the Dallas Mavericks owner, backing his franchise player. LeBron James, the latter, has been much harsher in his words: “Whoever made up that shit has to be fired,” he declared without hesitation.
Opinions in favor, opinions against, and opinions of the opinions. As in any controversy. And that last group has been joined by Reggie Miller, who has directly opposed LeBron’s words. “Where was all this speech a month ago? Two months ago? When the Lakers, when Boston, Dallas, were surely one of the top six teams. Now they’re out, possibly looking in … I see a little crying “, has assured in the Dan Patrick Show, of the TNT. In his plea, in addition, the legendary Indiana Pacers player, Hall of Fame and five times All Star, develops the reasons for his position, not as critical of the opposition to play-in itself as at the time of showing it. “He and Anthony Davis were injured and now they are looking from 7th to 10th place. I don’t want to hear so much crying,” he concludes.
It is not the first, nor will it be the last. As soon as The King’s words were made public, many others began to position themselves on it. Both about the format and about the Lakers star’s own claims. Daryl Morey, general manager of the Philadelphia 76ers, was another who replied, although without addressing James directly. “I cannot believe that the NBA has implemented a change so quickly that makes the games more interesting and meaningful,” he shared on his official Twitter page, using irony. Shaquille O’Neal or Dwyane Wade, on the other hand, have been on the side of LeBron, also sharing his adverse feelings towards the new format. Also Draymond Green, who said that playing these qualifying matches did not motivate him. In his case, something paradoxical, since it is his way to reach the final phase of the competition.
Opinions aside, the truth is that, to this day, both Dallas and Lakers are struggling to escape from the dangerous quagmire. In the case of the purple and gold franchise, in addition, it must be done without Dennis Schröder, indefinite withdrawal due to close contact with the coronavirus, and with LeBron himself in dubious physical conditions. After suffering from his injury in the game against Toronto Raptors, he can return this morning, but it is not known at what point. In any case, be it Dallas or Lakers, the play-in will be held from May 18 to 21 and will take place as follows: They will face 7th against 8th and 9th against 10th, whoever wins the first confrontation will qualify directly for the playoffs, whoever loses must face the winner of the second duel (9th against 10th). Everything, of course, within their respective Conferences. So 7th and 8th will have a chance to pass with a single win; 9th and 10th, meanwhile, would need two crushes. There is little to know. Until then (and surely after), the debate will continue.