NBA Reportedly in Talks to Add Play-In Tournament for Final Playoff Spots

The NBA may create a play-in tournament for the final two playoff spots.

Kirby Lee
USA Today Sports

Image via USA Today Sports

Kirby Lee

Under commissioner Adam Silver, the NBA is at the forefront of innovation in American professional sports. A month ago, the league jumped on the opportunity to get involved with the potential legalization of sports gambling across the United States. Over All-Star Weekend, Silver hinted that the league would consider adjusting the playoff-matchup format, switching from two conferences with 1-8 seeds to one big tournament with 1-16 seeds.

And now there's more. The league is considering implementing a play-in tournament for each conference's final two playoff spots, according to ESPN's NBA reporter Zach Lowe. Lowe reports that the league is having "real discussions" about the change.

The new format would include two four-team tournaments—the 7-10 seeds in each conference. No. 7 would play No. 8, with the winner claiming the seventh seed. Then the winner of No. 9-versus-No. 10 would play the loser of 7-vs.-8 for the eighth and final seed. 

According to Lowe, this change wouldn't be implemented next season, even if the legislation passes, and it may take several years. He adds that this could fit in with Silver's consideration of a 1-16 playoff format. If that were to happen, there would only be one play-in tournament.

For what it's worth, LeBron James is not down with the 1-16 playoff-seed idea, because he thinks it would change the way history is discussed in the NBA—and, you know, LeBron is always thinking about his legacy.

It seems unlikely this 7-10 tourney would fly with the players' union unless the league agrees to remove some games from the 82-game regular-season slate—which, as we've seen this year, is sorely needed anyway.

As Lowe notes, this change could spark interest in the league during March and April, typically a down time for the NBA.

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