If you’re a Memphis Grizzlies fan, you’re all-too-familiar with the NBA’s play-in format. In the season before last, Memphis was knocked out via play-in by the Portland Trail Blazers, sending the Grizz into an early offseason.
Last season, the Grizzlies found a better fate, winning in the first round of the play-in tournament against an intra-divisional rival in the San Antonio Spurs. They wouldn’t stop there either, defeating the Golden State Warriors in the next round to advance to the NBA Playoffs, where they would steal a game against the Utah Jazz before being sent home in a total of five games.
On Tuesday, NBA announced the return of the play-in tournament in 2021-22
The rationale behind creating the play-in tournament generally revolved around the fact that NBA teams played fewer games in the 2020-21 season, limiting them to 72 as opposed to the league’s typical 82 games. This was the same rationale that they used a season prior during the 2019-20 year’s play-in.
In 2021, that excuse flies out of the window.
It seems like the league simply enjoys the play-in structure, which keeps teams playing competitive basketball through the end of the season. Even teams that are already centered in a play-in spot have a newfound motivation to reach the 6-seed, where they’d earn guaranteed entry to the NBA Playoffs.
Clearly, this is working for the league, as they announced that the play-in tournament would return in 2021, giving dates for the competition. Here are the details according to The Athletic and Stadium’s Shams Charania.
The NBA Board of Governors have voted to continue the 2020-21 Play-In Tournament format for the 2021-22 NBA season, taking place April 12-15, sources tell @TheAthletic
@Stadium 7-to-10 Seed Play-In officially back.
Even though the Grizzlies will be shooting for that 6-seed in 2021, this is big news for a team that could find themselves in the play-in tournament for the third consecutive season. Rather than fighting for the 9th or 10th spot, however, Memphis will be fighting to play themselves out of the play-in.
The tournament will take place about a month earlier than it did this past season. The 2020 season had a unique schedule that caused the play-in to take place slightly later than it ordinarily would have.