Following the strangest season in NBA history in 2020 with the bubble in Orlando and the Los Angeles Lakers winning the championship over the Miami Heat, the league wasted no time to get back to the hardwood in 2021.
Teams had little-to-no chance to get back for this season, so, in order to try and get the schedule back to how it usually is, the league decided to have a 72-game regular season rather than the usual 82.
So, now that we're heading towards the sunset of the campaign, we're just weeks away from knowing the 16 teams that will make the playoffs. But, how will the playoffs be played for this unique season?
The Format For NBA 2021 Playoffs
As per usual, the NBA will allow 16 teams to make the playoffs and have the chance to win the Larry O'Brien trophy. Also, as per usual, we'll have 8 teams per conference (Eastern and Conference), rather than the 16 teams with the best record.
This time, however, the league has decided to implement again the controversial play-in tournament. This gives the teams with the 9th and 10th best record in each conference a chance to make the playoffs.
How Does The NBA Play-In Tournament Work
According to the league's official site, this year the play-in tournament will also include the 7th seed, unlike how it happened during the bubble:
(Transcript via NBA)
"At the conclusion of the regular season but before the first round of the playoffs, the team with the 7th-highest winning percentage in each conference will host the team with the 8th-highest winning percentage in a Play-In Game (the “Seven-Eight Game”). The winner of the Seven-Eight Game in each conference will earn the No. 7 seed.
The team with the 9th-highest winning percentage in each conference will host the team with the 10th-highest winning percentage in the “Nine-Ten Game”. The loser of the Seven-Eight Game will host the winner of the Nine-Ten Game in a Play-In Game, and the winner of that game in each conference will earn the No. 8 seed."
While some people think that this is unfair to the teams that spent most of the year in a playoff spot, that will also give the fans some extra excitement before the long-awaited NBA playoffs.