Long live the play-ins! – Bouncewear

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Long live the play-ins!

Change is not always a bad thing, and the play-ins are the perfect example

Changes can be difficult

Changes can be difficult or you often have to get used to them. But sometimes it is also just a good thing and it’s immediately clear. Like with the play-ins. Because you can hardly deny it: the play-ins are fantastic and must continue to exist. If you ask me. Is it a pity that Stephen Curry's historic season is already ending and are we going to miss him in the play-offs? Absolutely. Would we have cursed if LeBron James and the Lakers had been out before the start of the playoffs? Certainly. But that does not outweigh all the positive that the play-ins bring and the added value it already has for the regular season of the NBA.


The last weeks of the regular season are often referred to as the "Dog Days". And rightly so, because very often there is either nothing left to really play for, the players already have their heads in the play-offs and therefore hold back (or just don't play). Or they are already on the beach in their minds and at the same time the bosses want their teams to lose so that they have a better chance in the draft. That’s different now. Yes, of course there are still teams that will try to tank and lose as much as possible to get a hold of that one super talent. But these teams are now fewer. And yes, there are also teams that are already certain of their place in the play-offs and will let players rest. But also fewer…

And the reason for that is very simple: there are more teams that now have something to keep playing for and keep going. Because you are either less sure of your place in the play-offs or you still have the prospect of a place in the best eight of your Conference. A team that is fourth or fifth can just drop, but a team that is twelfth can still have a chance to make it anyway. Just look at Washington this season. So it remains worthwhile to keep looking at the regular season and that was anything but the case in recent years if we are very honest.

High stake games always get the benefit of the doubt 

What makes it even more interesting is that it gives teams that have suffered a lot of injuries the chance to make a difference this season. The opposite is of course also true, but that is always the case in a league that works with playoffs. An injury to a crucial player at an important moment changes everything for the worse. But that has always been the case. Just think of the Warriors in 2019. Or the Cavaliers four years before. Does that outweigh games with more at stake? Absolutely not.

And then there are the play-in games themselves. One match that so much depends on. And what everyone wants to look at. Must-see TV and games for all eternity. Those between the Lakers & Warriors and Warriors & Grizzlies have clearly proven that. Of course there will be bad games (thank you Charlotte), but you’ve got that risk in every sport and with every game ever played, at every level.


There are of course also people who will say that enough games are already being played and that the load on the bodies of the players is already heavy enough. They are also quite right. But a team now has to play a maximum of two extra matches. That's really not going to make the difference. And if you prefer not to play matches with high stakes towards the end of the regular season, it is also strange why you want to play at the highest level. That is why you are in the NBA and that is why you partly earn all those millions.

I have heard many arguments (from players, coaches, fans, ...) against the play-in games. But none were even slightly convincing. The only ridiculous thing is that the play-ins stats don't seem to belong anywhere. It's as if they just don't exist, because they don't match the numbers for the rest of your career. And so the NBA itself does slightly detract from a fantastic idea and concept. Although that can of course be adjusted very quickly. The play-ins are a stroke of genius. And may remain a part of the NBA season forever.


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Dennis is the NBA expert for Bouncewear. From presenting his own X and O's podcast, commentating Belgiums' Euromillions Basketball League games to presenting at Play Sports, he shares his view on all NBA actualities.