Mavericks owner Mark Cuban criticized the NBA's play-in tournament in large part because of the season's compressed schedule.
"The worst part of this approach is that it doubles the stress of the compressed schedule," Cuban told ESPN. "Rather than playing for a playoff spot and being able to rest players as the standings become clearer, teams have to approach every game as a playoff game to either get into or stay in the top 6 since the consequences, as Luka [Dončić] said, are enormous. So players are playing more games and more minutes in fewer days."
The NBA used the play-in tournament during the 2020 season as a result of the shortened schedule due to the pandemic.
The play-in tournament involves teams between seventh and 10th place in each conference. The No. 7 seed plays the No. 8 seed and the winner gets the No. 7 seed. Then the No. 9 seed plays the No. 10 seed with the loser being eliminated from the playoffs and the winner plays against the loser of the "seven-eight game" for the No. 8 seed.
The NBA board of governors, which includes Cuban, unanimously approved the implementation of the play-in tournament. However, the Mavericks owner now regrets his decision and believes it was an "enormous mistake."
Cuban previously criticized the tournament for its formatting while talking to DallasBasketball.com but said he liked the idea of a play-in because of the fan interest it garners.
“I think it's good for the NBA financially and interest-wise,” Cuban said. "Having more teams in the playoff hunt creates more fan interest in end-of-the-season games that might not have been as appealing to some in previous years. This works out well for the NBA from a financial standpoint as it tries to recoup some of the money lost last year due to COVID-19."
Dallas (29–24) is currently in seventh place in the Western Conference—meaning it'd have to participate in the play-in tournament while just two games behind the No. 6 Trail Blazers (31–22).
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