The NBA got what they exactly what they wanted when they instituted the play-in tournament for the 2020-21 season.
By expanding the number of teams that could potentially qualify for the postseason from eight to 10 in each conference, the number of teams losing on purpose to improve their chance of a higher draft pick diminished while games at the end of the season for those still able to qualify for the play-in tournament took on an added significance. For example, Saturday’s game between the Lakers and Pacers was important for both teams — the Lakers won 122-115 — which would not have been the case, at least to the same extent, without the play-in, as Indiana would have already been eliminated from postseason contention and the Lakers would have already clinched a spot in the postseason.
So between the play-in keeping the bottom of the playoff table engaged and the race among the top four seeds being so close — the Suns could still catch the Jazz for the top overall seed and the Nuggets and Clippers are tied with one game to play — all the matchups for the first round of the 2021 Western Conference Playoffs and the play-in tournament will be decided on the last day of the season. So if the goal of the play-in was to make the end of the season more interesting, mission accomplished.
As for the Trail Blazers, they currently sit…