The NBA Play-In Tournament starts today. Wait, what’s that you say?
For those of you that are tuning into this year’s NBA playoff bracket for the first time in a couple years, you might be unfamiliar with the league’s new playoff format. No longer is it just the 16 teams with the best records in the league standings, but in 2020-21 season the NBA added four teams to the league’s post season tournament bringing the total of participating NBA Playoff franchises to twenty.
Officially dubbed the Play-In tournament, it allows the #9 and #10 seeds in both the Eastern and Western conference a chance to play themselves into the larger bracket as opposed to when only the eight top seeds from both conferences automatically.
NBA Playoff Standings
As we mentioned, the top ten teams with the best win/loss records in the standings from each conference qualifies for the NBA Playoffs now. The first six seeds automatically make it into the main NBA Playoff bracket whereas the #7-10 seeds have to battle it out in the Play-In Tournament. Here are the 2023 NBA Playoff standings:
NBA Playoff Standings (West)
- Denver Nuggets (53-29)
- Memphis Grizzlies (51-31)
- Sacramento Kings (48-34)
- Phoenix Suns (45-37)
- Los Angeles Clippers (44-38)
- Golden State Warriors (44-38)
- Los Angeles Lakers (43-39)
- Minnesota Timberwolves (42-40)
- New Orleans Pelicans (42-40)
- Oklahoma City Thunder (40-42)
As mentioned above, the Play-In Tournament created a lot of drama on the final day of the NBA season where several Western Conference teams were jockeying for position. For example, the Clippers’ last regular season game had significant implications. If the Clippers won vs. the Phoenix Suns they would lock up the 5th seed, if the Clippers lost they could have fell all the way into the Play-In Tournament.
NBA Playoff Standings (East)
- Milwaukee Bucks (58-24)
- Boston Celtics (57-25)
- Philadelphia 76ers (54-28)
- Cleveland Cavaliers (51-31)
- New York Knicks (47-35)
- Brooklyn Nets (45-37)
- Miami Heat (44-38)
- Atlanta Hawks (41-41)
- Toronto Raptors (41-41)
- Chicago Bulls (40-42)
There was less uncertainty in the East on the last day of the regular season, but the Play-In will be interesting with the Miami Heat falling into the mini tournament. If you’re looking to print out a NBA Playoff bracket, check out the original bracket we created with the Play-In Tournament bracket included. The winner of the 2023 NBA championship will definitely see their NBA season 2023-24 tickets increase the following season. That’s what common sense and the data on the economic impact of playoff success has told us in the past.
The Benefits of the NBA Play-In Tournament
Some NBA fans certainly are thinking: meh, a Play-In tournament sounds ridiculous on the surface, but if you think about it from the NBA’s side there’s a lot of benefits for the league.
- Increased Competition: The play-in tournament adds more teams to the playoff picture, increasing the level of competition and providing more excitement for fans.
- Less Tanking: The Play-In tournament gives teams on the playoff bubble a chance to fight for their spot, making the regular season games much more meaningful. In other words, less tanking.
- Higher Stakes: Those teams are in Play-In raises the stakes. It’s not a seven game series where they can have an off game. Each Play-In games really matters. For the 9/10 seeds, their season comes down to one game. They lose, they’re out. The 7/8 seeds get the privilege of a double elimination.
- Gambling Speaking of stakes, now that gambling is legal, bettors can add additional stress to more games . They can take advantage of sky bet offers for new customers.
- Upsets: Lower-seeded teams have the opportunity to upset higher-seeded teams in the play-in tournament, adding to the unpredictability and drama of the playoffs. Can you imagine Oklahoma City Thunder who are 10th in the standings, upset the Lakers to get into the playoffs?
- Player Development: The play-in tournament gives players (and teams) valuable playoff experience, helping them grow and develop.
- Financial Benefits: Last but not least, the more games means more revenue for the NBA, its teams and ultimately the players.
The Play-In tournament is considered a win-win because it adds a new level of excitement and competitiveness to the last quarter of the NBA’s regular season; which reduces tanking while giving up-and-coming NBA franchises opportunities to make the postseason.