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#pounditFriday, May 7, 2021

Luka Doncic takes issue with NBA’s play-in playoff system

Luka Doncic

Luka Doncic does not seem to be a fan of the NBA’s play-in playoff system.

Doncic’s Dallas Mavericks lost 113-95 to the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday night. Dallas is 29-24 and in the seventh spot in the Western Conference.

Even though being seventh would typically earn the Mavericks a first-round playoff series against the No. 2 seed in the West, that won’t necessarily be the case this year. Doncic doesn’t like that.

“I don’t understand the idea of the play-in [tournament]. You play 72 games to get in the playoffs, then maybe you lose two in a row and you’re out of the playoffs. I don’t see the point of that,” Doncic said after the game, via ESPN’s Tim MacMahon.

The NBA voted to try a play-in system for the 2021 season. Here’s how the system works.

The top six teams in each conference are guaranteed spots in the playoffs. Then, teams ranked No. 7-No. 10 will be involved in play-in games. Nos. 7 and 8 will play each other, and Nos. 9 and 10 will also play. The winner of the 7/8 game gets the No. 7 spot. The loser of the 7/8 game plays the winner of the 9/10 game. The winner of that game gets the final seed in the playoffs. The two eliminated teams enter the lottery.

The system makes things more fun in that it provides more high-stakes games for the league, which generates fan interest and buzz. It’s bad if you’re a team like Dallas and are well above .500, and you might have to face a team like the Warriors, who are currently under .500.

If Dallas keeps playing good ball, this really shouldn’t be an issue. But the Mavs are the exact type of team that this rule hurts, which explains Doncic’s frustration. He already noted some differences between the NBA playoffs and Europe, and this probably isn’t helping.

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