The NBA Playoffs are inching closer, and as they do, teams lower in the standings are excited for the opportunity to participate in the Play-In Tournament – which is in its second year of existence – whereas teams higher in the standings are trying to win as many games as possible in hopes of avoiding it.
And Dallas Mavs owner Mark Cuban, for all the things he's come to like about the set-up, has one lingering issue ...
First, for those who don’t know or just need a refresher, here is how the Play-In Tournament works:
- After the regular season ends, the No. 7 team and the No. 8 team in the standings play one game against each other. The winner of that game claims the seventh-seed in the playoffs.
- Then, the No. 9 team and the No. 10 team in the standings play one game against each other. The loser is eliminated.
- Finally, the loser of the No. 7-8 match plays the winner of the No. 9-10 match to determine the eighth and final seed in the playoff bracket.
Luka Doncic celebrates a 3-pointer in a 113-100 win over the Houston Rockets.
With the Spurs win over the Jazz on Friday night, Gregg Popovich passed Don Nelson as the NBA's all-time winningest head coach.
Utah's loss to the Spurs helps the Mavs' chances of gaining home-court, as they're now just 0.5 games behind the Jazz in the West Standings.
The NBA has its business-related reasons for continuing this ‘play-in’ experiment. For one, it incentivizes teams to avoid taking for a better draft pick since they’re still within striking distance of a playoff spot. This keeps the level of play higher (to an extent) than what we’ve seen towards the end of the seasons in previous years.
And with the NBA-darling Los Angeles Lakers and LeBron James being nearly six full games out of the eighth-seed in the West, it’s likely that the league isn’t going to complain too much about them having one last shot at climbing into a playoff series even though they didn’t really earn that chance throughout the 82-game regular season.
Mavs After NBA Draft: Christian Wood & Jaden Hardy - Moves Up
Amped-up arrivals, All-Star neglect, draft gambles, Texit and surviving a Spartan, all in this week's DFW notebook.
Report: Jalen Brunson Favors Bigger Role With Knicks? Mavs Backup Plans
The Knicks are making a major effort to clear cap space amid their pursuit of Jalen Brunson. What are the Mavericks' backup plans?
'We Were Shocked:' GM Nico Harrison Reveals Mavs' Reasons for Jaden Hardy Pick
The Dallas Mavericks ended up with a first-round talent in the NBA Draft despite previously trading their only pick to the Houston Rockets for Christian Wood.
Although the Dallas Mavericks have yet to be a part of the Play-In Tournament, Owner Mark Cuban has voiced his opinions on the new format. Initially, he called it a "mistake" due to the NBA deciding to implement it last season in a condensed schedule. This year, however, Cuban is coming around to the idea of the Play-In, but he still believes some tweaking needs to happen.
The Dallas Mavericks defeated the Utah Jazz on Monday to inch closer to home-court advantage in the West.
Luka Doncic and Julius Randle argue a call as Mavs lose to the Knicks.
Luka Doncic celebrates a bucket plus the foul against the Jazz.
"I'm much better with [the Play-In Tournament] this year," Cuban tells DallasBasketball.com in an exclusive 1-on-1 interview. "But I do think it's worth considering doing what we did for the bubble, which is to require teams be within some pre-set number of games of eighth place to qualify.
"Otherwise, we risk teams trying to "tank harder" to avoid the Play-In because it could impact their draft positioning."
The NBA Play-In Tournament was meant to accomplish two things: 1) make more money and 2) increase sustained competitiveness at the end of seasons with less "tanking." The league has accomplished both of those things, but now it must make the necessary changes to make sure the integrity of its regular season isn't compromised. Unless a team is within a game or two of the seventh or eighth-seed, it doesn't seem fair to put those spot-holders in a do-or-die situation after working hard for 82 games to achieve those standings.
Will the NBA make changes to its experiment before rolling it out for a third time next season? If commissioner Adam Silver values the ideas of Cuban, perhaps we will see those changes this summer.