While the playoffs were never even a figment in the imagination of Detroit Pistons fans this season, the playoffs have been a topic of conversation all year. This year, the NBA is experimenting with a new play-in format to keep more teams (and their fans) involved in the playoff chase.
Normally, the top eight teams in each conference make it, but this year seeds seven through 10 will participate in a play-in tournament with two advancing to the regular postseason. The seven and eight seeds will need to win only one game to advance, while the bottom two seeds would need to win both games.
Fans have reacted enthusiastically to the change (more below), but I wonder if that enthusiasm will stick once the reality sets in that good teams can be eliminated pretty quickly. And will the league suddenly regret their decision to keep a seven and eight seed out of a potential seven-game series if a star player like Luka Doncic or LaMelo Ball gets bounced in the play-in tourney in favor of Myles Turner and the Pacers or DeMar DeRozan and the Spurs?
Pistons fans, however, only really have reason to care about the rebuild, and there they are happy. According to the most recent SB Nation Reacts survey, 93 percent of Pistons fans are confident the team is headed in the right direction. That’s down slightly from a full 100 percent last week.
As teams prepare for the final push of the season, more teams than ever have an opportunity to see some form of postseason play. Because of a rule change for just the 2020 season, two more teams from each conference will have a chance to chase a title.
According to a majority of fans around the country, the play-in tournament is having the desired effect. Nearly two-thirds of fans believe the new format is keeping more teams engaged and preventing at least some teams from tanking for a draft pick.
More than that, a nearly identical percentage of fans find the concept of a play-in game exciting.
For now, the playoff format is in place just for this season. However, if the league finds success with the play-in, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see it tried again.
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