The NBA Play-In Tournament started in 2020, as a way to transition from the COVID NBA restart into the traditional playoff format.
The final six weeks of the 2019-20 regular season were interrupted by the emergence of COVID-19 in North America. As a result, the NBA season was paused on March 11 and not resumed until July 30 – more than a month after the season typically ends.
Because the season was ultimately shortened, a small Play-In tournament was implemented in order to be fair to any NBA teams who were surging late but wouldn’t get the benefit of a full 82-game season.
Thanks to the Play-In Tournament, more teams had a viable path to the NBA Playoffs.
The idea was so popular with both fans and team management that the NBA Play-In Tournament was kept for subsequent seasons and is now a regular part of the playoff qualification process for several teams in the middle of the standings.
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