With his Dallas Mavericks on track to participate in the NBA's end-of-season play-in tournament, team owner Mark Cuban called the new format "an enormous mistake," citing the extra workload for teams that would have otherwise clinched playoff berths late in the regular season.
"The worst part of this approach is that it doubles the stress of the compressed schedule," Cuban told ESPN's Tim MacMahon on Tuesday. "Rather than playing for a playoff spot and being able to rest players as the standings become clearer, teams have to approach every game as a playoff game to either get into or stay in the top six, since the consequences, as Luka (Doncic) said, are enormous. ...
"In hindsight, this approach was an enormous mistake."
The NBA normally holds an 82-game regular season that runs from mid-October to mid-April. With last season's midyear delay pushing the 2020 postseason into October, the 2020-21 regular season was shortened to 72 games, with opening night on Dec. 22. The play-in games will take place from May 18-21.
Cuban said he would have preferred if the NBA had eliminated conference-based playoff berths, seeding the top teams 1-20 with the bottom four seeds as the play-in teams. In that format, the 29-24 (.547) Mavericks would be on track for the 10th seed.
Instead, if the regular season ended today, the Mavericks would host the 8-seed Memphis Grizzlies in a winner-takes-all game for the 7-seed. The loser of that contest would then face the winner of a matchup between the ninth-seeded San Antonio Spurs and the 10th-seeded Golden State Warriors for the West's final playoff berth.
Doncic is still in search of his first postseason series victory, and the third-year phenom said Monday that he doesn't like the notion of having to fight even harder just to get into the final field of 16 playoff combatants.
"I don't understand the idea of a play-in," Doncic said following a loss to the Philadelphia 76ers. "You play 72 games to get into the playoffs, then maybe you lose two in a row and you're out of the playoffs. So I don't see the point of that."