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Adam Silver reiterates he wants play-in to stay, NBA to return to traditional schedule

Michael Holley says that the road through the Western Conference during the 2021 NBA Playoffs is the "toughest top to bottom" he's ever seen.

Adam Silver has been pretty clear about what he wants in the past. He likes the play-in tournament and what it means for the regular season — people were talking about the jockeying for the play-in, not tanking. And he wants the NBA to return to its traditional October-to-June schedule.

He reiterated all of that Friday on the Keyshawn, J-Will, and Zubin on ESPN Radio (hat tip Tim Bontemps of ESPN).

“I haven’t made any secret that I want [the play-in] to be [around long term]. I have two constituencies I need to convince of that. One is the 30 teams, and I think for the most part they’ve supported it. Again, I understand the sentiment if I were a team — a 7-seed in particular — the notion [that] after a long season, you could potentially play out of the playoffs. I understand those feelings. I think at the same time, the teams recognize the amount of additional interest we’ve created over the last month of the season plus those play-in games make it worth it.

“Of course, the other constituency is the players. For example, one player, who is on the executive committee of the union, said to me yesterday that he really likes the play-in tournament but he felt it could potentially be a bit unfair. For example, if you were the seventh seed and you were a significant number of games ahead of the 8-seed, the notion that you could somehow lose two games and be out of the playoffs seems unfair.”

There will be a lot of off-season discussion around the play-in, but considering the ratings the games drew — the Warriors/Lakers showdown was the highest-rated game on ESPN since the 2019 Conference Finals, and all the other games drew good numbers as well — it will be back. Add in the impact on the end of the regular season and there is no doubt. The league may tweak the format, but it will be back.

In his interview, Silver also said that now close to 80% of NBA players have been vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Finally, he said he wants to see the league return to an 82-game regular season, October-to-June schedule.

“Because if we start late and then go late again obviously into next summer, this will just continue. And we think in terms of fan interest, in terms of what our television partners are telling us, that we’re better off completing our Finals by the end of June.”

What the television partners want, the television partners get.