The AT&T Play-In Tournament was officially adopted as a full-time part of the NBA playoff picture in 2022. A version of the Play-In Tournament has been in place since the 2020 NBA season restart, and the NBA’s Board of Governors approved its return for the 2021-22 season as well.
Below is a season-by-season look at the Play-In Tournament.
2022 Play-In Tournament
Tuesday, April 12:
Winners earn 7th seeds and advance to NBA playoffs
Wednesday, April 13
Winners challenge loser of 7/8 game
Friday, April 15
Winners earn 8th seeds and advance to NBA playoffs
2021 Play-In Tournament
Tuesday, May 18:
Celtics earn 7th seed and advance to NBA playoffs | Pacers play loser of 7/8 game (Wizards)
Wednesday, May 19
Lakers earn 7th seed and advance to NBA playoffs | Grizzlies play loser of 7/8 game (Warriors)
Thursday, May 20
- Game 5: (8) Wizards 142, (9) Pacers 115
Wizards earn 8th seed and advance to NBA playoffs
Friday, May 21
Grizzlies earn 8th seed and advance to NBA playoffs
2020 Play-In Tournament
In the season restart due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the NBA instituted the first edition of its Play-In Tournament, which was different from the current format.
If a team with the eighth-best record in its conference was more than four games ahead of the team with the ninth-best record in the same conference, there would be no Play-In Tournament. But if the team with the eighth-best record in its conference was four games or fewer ahead of the team with the ninth-best record in the same conference, then there was a Play-In Tournament of sorts. What was created was essentially a best-of-two series where the No. 9 seed had to win two head-to-head matchups to get the No. 8 spot.
Because Portland finished the restart 1 1/2 games ahead of Memphis, a two-game Play-In Tournament was triggered. The Grizzlies had to win both games to win the No. 8 spot, while Portland had to just win once to clinch No. 8.
Saturday, Aug. 15:
- Play-In Game 1: Blazers 126, Grizzlies 122
Blazers earn 8th seed and advance to NBA playoffs
Lakers beat Blazers, 4-1