How many teams make the NBA Play-In Tournament? And has it been good for the NBA?

Mar 11, 2024; Detroit, Michigan, USA;  The game ball sits on the foul line as the referees review
Mar 11, 2024; Detroit, Michigan, USA; The game ball sits on the foul line as the referees review / Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Pistons have been officially eliminated from the NBA Playoffs in what is becoming an annual March tradition.

The Pistons haven't made the playoffs since the 2018-19 season and haven't won a playoff game since 2008, a run of futility long enough to see several evolutions in the league itself.

The 3-point shot has become more prominent and the NBA is on pace for its highest-scoring year since the 1960s, with defense rapidly disappearing in an age of offensive dominance.


The league has also adopted a Play-in Tournament that gives more teams a chance to make the playoffs, a change that the Detroit Pistons have yet to take advantage of.

How many teams make the NBA Play-in Tournament?

If you are not familiar the NBA Play-in Tournament features four teams from each conference.

The tournament includes seeds 7-10 and will take place on April 16th-19th.

How does the NBA Play-in Tournament work?

According to the official NBA website, here is how the tournament breaks down:

"On Tuesday, April 16, each conference’s No. 7 team in the standings will host the No. 8 team. The winners secure the No. 7 seed in the playoffs. The losers will get another chance to earn a playoff spot on April 19.

On Wednesday, April 17, each conference’s No. 9 team in the standings will host the No. 10 team. The winners will advance to the final stage of the Play-In Tournament on April 19. The losers are eliminated.

On Friday, April 19, the losers of the No. 7 vs. No. 8 matchups will host the winners of the No. 9 vs. No. 10 matchups. The winners secure the No. 8 seed in the NBA playoffs for its conference. The losing teams are eliminated."

Has the Play-in Tournament been a positive for the NBA?

You can debate a lot of things Adam Silver has done as commissioner of the NBA, but the Play-in Tournament is not one of them, as it has undoubtedly been positive for the league.

Part of the reason for this change was to keep teams outside of the top 8 from tanking down the home stretch of the season, and it has. Playoff games pay off big financially for teams, so even getting one is worth fighting for that 10th seed rather than losing on purpose to try and drop in the standings and increase lottery position.

Teams like the Atlanta Hawks, Chicago Bulls and Golden State Warriors would have less reason to play hard right now under the old format. A team like the Warriors could sneak into the playoffs and make some noise, so this has given them a backdoor that makes their season more exciting and purposeful.

It's also given teams like the Detroit Pistons something to aim for, as they are not likely to make the top eight anytime soon, but could possibly sneak into that final spot. Even if they only got one game, it would be a valuable experience for a young team and give them a tangible and attainable goal.

It also gives good teams who have suffered injuries earlier in the season a chance to get back in the mix, and if they can get healthy by the tournament, possibly go on a run, which Golden State hopes to do this season.

The only area the Play-in Tournament has affected negatively is the trade deadline, as more teams potentially involved in the playoffs means there are fewer sellers, but on the flip side, more teams could try to add talent in an attempt to make the tournament.

Anything that reduces tanking is good in my book, so the NBA Play-in Tournament has been one of Adam Silver's better ideas. Let's hope the Detroit Pistons can take advantage of it (or better) soon.