Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was highly critical of the idea of NBA’s play-in tournament, telling ESPN on Tuesday the concept for the playoffs is “an enormous mistake.”
Cuban made reference to this season’s compressed schedule and said he knows why the league is forced into getting creative, but would rather see a traditional top seed vs. bottom seed format.
“If we are going to be creative because of COVID, we should go straight up 1-20 and let the bottom 4 play in, Cuban said. “This is the year particularly to do it since the 10 games cut [from the normal 82-game schedule] were in conference.”
The NBA’s most outspoken owner backs up the comments made by his star player, Luka Doncic, who said he doesn’t understand playing “72 games to get into the playoffs, then maybe you lose two in a row and you’re out.”
Doncic wasn’t the only NBA star to criticize the play-in format either.
Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green recently told reporters fighting for a play-in spot does not “motivate” him. The former NBA champs currently sit in tenth place in the Western Conference standings and would be subject to the format if the playoffs started today.
Cuban went on to say that “Rather than playing for a playoff spot and being able to rest players as the standings become clearer, teams have to approach every game as a playoff game to either get into or stay in the top six since the consequences are enormous.”
“So players are playing more games and more minutes in fewer days,” Cuban added.
The play-in concept features the teams that finish from seventh to 10th place in each conference, and will feature three games to decide who’ll advance in the playoffs as the eighth seed for their respective conference.
The structure, which was unanimously approved by the NBA board of governors, was adopted after the NBA Bubble format excluded teams due to a break after the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Cuban, who was once on board with the idea, says “In hindsight, this approach was an enormous mistake.”
Dallas (29-24) currently sits in seventh place in the Western Conference standings with 19 games left in the shortened 72-game season. In previous years, the Mavericks would move right into playing the second seed in the Western Conference. But now would have to participate in the play-in tournament, if the NBA Playoff started today.
The Charlotte Hornets (27-25) sit above the cutoff as the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference standings. A half-game separates them from the Miami Heat (28-25), who’re currently in fifth place and the Boston Celtics (28-26), who’ll try and fight their way out of seventh in the east. Charlotte hasn’t made the NBA Playoffs since the 2015-16 season.