Great news for NBA fans; the play-in tournament is back for at least one more year!
The NBA Board of Governors approved a proposal to keep the pre-playoff format first implemented in last year’s NBA bubble for the 2021-2022 season. The play-in will take place April 12-15, the same format as it was for the last couple of years: teams 7-10 in both conferences will play to determine No.7 and No.8 seed for the postseason.
Here are other notable dates the NBA announced for the upcoming season:
• Aug. 2: Teams can begin negotiating with free agents (6 p.m. ET)
• Aug. 6: Teams can begin signing free agents (12:01 p.m. ET)
• Aug. 8-17: MGM Resorts NBA Summer League in Las Vegas
• Sept. 28, 2021: Training camp begins
• Oct. 19, 2021: Regular season begins
• April 10, 2022: Regular season concludes
• April 12-15, 2022: Play-In Tournament
• April 16, 2022: Playoffs begin
• June 2, 2022: NBA Finals begin
• June 19, 2022: Game 7 of NBA Finals (if necessary)
• June 23, 2022: NBA Draft
The NBA will have its first 82-game regular season since 2018-2019, starting on October 19. The final regular-season game will be played two days before the play-in starts, on April 10. The 2022 NBA Playoffs will begin on April 16, a day after eight seeds from both conferences are determined through the play-in tournament.
It’s great to see things get back to normal. But it’s also great to see the play-in seemingly become the new normal. What seemed like a temporary solution implemented solely due to the context of a pandemic might become an integral part of the NBA regular season moving forward — Adam Silver and the league are pulling for it.
The only potential setback for long-term implementation of the play-in might be the players, most notably, the league’s superstars. LeBron James and Luka Dončić are amongst those who have already spoken against the pre-playoff format, and although it seems the majority of players are in favor of the idea, there’s a potential for the NBA to give in to their most valuable performers.
Of course, it seems that speaking out correlates with one’s potential to wind up in the play-in — James praised the idea during the bubble when the Lakers were No.1 seed, and Dončić expressed his criticism when the Mavericks were fighting to avoid the play-in spot. The same thing might happen in the upcoming NBA season. But I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
In the meantime, let’s enjoy the fact the play-in tournament is back. We as NBA fans love it!