fb-pixel Skip to main content

Report: NBA keeping playoff play-in tournament for 2021-22 postseason

Jayson Tatum led the way with 50 points at the Celtics defeated Washington to advance to the NBA playoffs on May 18 at TD Garden.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

The NBA play-in tournament won’t be a one-year wonder.

According to ESPN, both the NBA and its players association agreed to keep the four-team qualifiers for the Nos. 7 and 8 spots in each team’s conference postseason for another year. Final approval from the league’s board of governors is expected in August, ESPN reported.

The Celtics were part of the 2020-21 play-in, finishing the regular season with the seventh-best record in the East. They beat No. 8 seed Washington on May 18 to move into the first round, Jayson Tatum scoring 50 points. The Wizards, meanwhile, then faced the winner of an elimination game between No. 9 Indiana and No. 10 Charlotte two nights later, routing the Pacers to earn the No. 8 spot in the first round.


After the league staged a one-game Western Conference play-in during the pandemic-delayed 2019-20 season, the tournament concept was a hit, with the May 19 game between Golden State and the Lakers netting ESPN’s second-largest audience of the season. The league also believed the play-in discouraged tanking, with the ESPN story noting 24 of the NBA’s 30 teams had a chance to earn a spot in at least the play-in tournament in the final two weeks of this season.

“There was some resistance to the play-in tournament. I hope it’s a new element of our game. We hope to go forward with that,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said prior to Game 4 of the Finals on Wednesday.