Playoffs Format: How Will the NBA Playoffs 2021 Work?

Published 05/16/2021, 9:06 AM EDT


The NBA’s regular season has reached its climax as the teams are set to compete in the playoffs. For the first time, the league will adjudge the last playoff spots with a play-in tournament. The playoffs are a much-awaited tournament, for their unpredictability and excitement.

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The Utah Jazz, Phoenix Suns, and the Philadelphia 76ers will look forward to carrying their regular-season form into the postseason. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Lakers might have to enter the play-in tournament, depending on how the results go elsewhere. As the postseason kicks off, let us look at how the playoffs draw up.

How do the playoffs work?

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16 teams will compete according to their seedings as the top ranked eight teams from both the Western and Eastern Conference will enter the tournament. Their record in the regular season is a major factor in how the teams get their seedings. The first-ranked team would go head to head against the eighth-ranked team. Henceforth, the no 2 seed would play no 7, n0 3 plays no 6, and no 4 seeded team will play no 5.

This is a great way to reward the teams with a better ranking as they get the advantage.

After the first round of matches, the tournament goes forward into the conference semi-finals. Likewise, the winners of that round will claim their place in the Conference championship. Finally, the two champions from each conference will go head-to-head in the final, for the coveted Larry O’Brien Trophy.

Playoffs thrill the basketball community as the surprises provided are legendary. The first round in the Western Conference playoffs arguably saw the most shocking moment in NBA history in 2007, where Baron Davis and the Golden State Warriors, stunned the no 1 seeded Dallas Mavericks in an epic clash. In conclusion, these moments epitomized the playoffs.

How does the play-in tournament add to the excitement?

The league is all set to experiment with the play-in tournament this season. The teams ranked 7th to 10th from each conference will go head-to-head to determine who gets the last two playoff spots. The first game of the tournament will see the matchup between the no 7th seed and the 8th seed. The victors of this game will head to the playoffs as rank 7.

However, the defeated team in the first round will get another chance to enter the playoffs.

In addition, the second game will be between the 9th and 10th seeded teams as the losers will go out. The winners of that game would face the defeated team of the first game. The winner of the last match will enter the playoffs as the 8th seeded team.

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This is an interesting tournament on how the league gives a second chance, for the lower-ranked teams in the conference.

LeBron James and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban have criticized the tournament to include the new play-in tournament. But, the NBA is all set to make a revolutionary change in the existing rules and regulations.

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Jacob Gijy

130 articles

Jacob Gijy is an NBA writer at EssentiallySports. Gijy finished his Masters in Counselling Psychology and worked in a hospital for 2 years before his passion for sports compelled him to find his way to sports journalism. A fan of the great Tim Duncan, he is always ready to pick up a debate with anyone who does not offer the centre the respect he deserves.

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