Phoenix Suns: NBA should not make play-in game permanent

Phoenix Suns (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Phoenix Suns (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

The NBA had such success with the bubble play-in game format, but whether it affects the Phoenix Suns or not, this should not become a permanent fixture.

The Phoenix Suns came one missed buzzer-beater away from qualifying for the NBA’s first-ever play-in game. Instead, it was the Memphis Grizzlies and the Portland Trail Blazers who earned places in this unique opportunity.

In that game, (in which the Suns would have definitely defeated a free-falling Grizzlies team…twice), the NBA saw 1.9 million viewers, which is about seven percent higher than the other bubble games. This success has led to an interest in making the play-in game(s) a permanent feature. Should this happen?

Whether it affects the Phoenix Suns or not, the play-in game should not become permanent.

Hard pass for me.

I can see it now. The Phoenix Suns improve next season and finish the season 42-40, landing them 8th in the Western Conference and four games ahead of the 9th place New Orleans Pelicans. Zion bias kicks in and the Pelicans beat the Suns two straight games to steal the 8th playoff seed, preventing the Suns from finally breaking their playoff drought.

That is the pessimist in me, but the NBA should not make the play-in game permanent whether it screws over future Phoenix Suns teams or not. They already have 82 play-in games in order to make the playoffs; they are called the regular season.

You have to remember the sole reason the NBA implemented the play-in game in the first place. It was because it couldn’t get all of their regular-season games in, so this was a way to make up for missing those final 10-ish games.

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Sure, it got monster ratings. It was new, exciting, and featured high stakes. But ratings (ahem, money) should not completely upend competitive integrity. The NBA already has over half its teams make the playoffs, which is absurd. The play-in game essentially expands the playoffs and, in my opinion, cheapens the post-season.

Currently, 53 percent of NBA teams make the playoffs. Compare that to 51 percent of NHL teams, 37.5 percent of NFL teams, and 33 percent of MLB teams. Baseball is interesting because it implemented a play-in format of their own back in 2012. Even though they have the fewest number of teams make the playoffs, they also play (by far) the most regular-season games and a one-game playoff is simply absurd.

The same deal applies to the NBA. For the bubble, it made sense. It was a creative solution to a unique problem, but just because it happened to be successful in that situation, doesn’t mean it should remain a solution when this unique problem no longer exists.

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