There has been a lot of talk about the NBA’s playoff play-in tournament this week. Both Luka Doncic and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban questioned the need for a play-in given the condensed and hectic schedule this season. Cuban, along with the Board of Governors, voted to approve the tournament prior to the season.
The Mavericks, if they don’t move up in the playoff standings, would be subject to playing in the tournament to secure their playoff standing. Sitting in the seventh seed, Dallas would need to play potentially two more games after the end of the regular season. There’s been some confusion (*cough* The Athletic *cough*) on what that scenario looks like, so here’s what the play-in tournament looks like.
If Dallas remains No. 7 in the Western Conference, they will play whoever is No. 8—currently the Memphis Grizzlies. Should the Mavericks win that game, they secure the seventh seed and will take on the second seed—the Phoenix Suns as of this writing—in the first round of the playoffs.
Dropping the game against the eighth seed means that the Mavericks have one more chance at making the postseason. They would play the winner of the game between the No. 9 and No. 10 seed. The game would serve as a single-elimination contest for the final playoff spot. If Dallas wins, they play the No. 1 seed—Utah Jazz—in the first round.
Of course, seeding could and should change over the final few weeks of the regular season. It’s likely, given the comments from Doncic and Cuban, that the team would like to avoid the play-in tournament. However, if their fortunes don’t improve, they’ll just have to live with the consequences.
“It’s a reality,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. “The play-in tournament is happening. If we end up in the play-in, then we’ll embrace that challenge. It will be a great experience.”
Editor’s note: This was turned in Wednesday afternoon but we’ve had somethings happen since then. Mavs aren’t going to be in the play-in unless something bad happens, or so I keep telling myself.