LeBron James blasts NBA play-in tournament ahead of playoffs

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Nick Schwartz
·2 min read
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The Lakers found themselves battling for the top seed in the Western Conference months ago when both Anthony Davis and LeBron James were still healthy to start the season, but after losing both of their superstars for extended periods, the defending champions are just hoping to avoid the NBA’s new play-in tournament.

The Lakers fell at home to the Raptors, 121-114, on Sunday night to extend their current losing streak to three and fall to 36-28 on the season. Since March 20th, the Lakers have gone 8-15 and are in a battle with the Portland Trail Blazers and Dallas Mavericks, who both have an identical 36-28 record. The Mavs sit in the No. 5 spot in the Western Conference on a tiebreaker, followed by the No. 6 Lakers and No. 7 Blazers, with No. 8 Memphis three and a half games behind.

As the current No. 6 seed, the Lakers are projected to face the No. 3 Denver Nuggets in the first round – but should Los Angeles drop to the No. 7 slot, they would be forced to participate in the NBA’s new play-in tournament, which expands the playoff field from eight to ten teams in each conference.

LeBron James, for one, is not a fan of the new system. After Sunday’s loss, LeBron offered a harsh assessment of the play-in tournament.

Via The Athletic’s Bill Oram:

“Whoever came up with that [expletive] needs to be fired.”

James, interestingly, seems to have changed his position on the idea of a play-in tournament multiple times over the years. In 2018, when the play-in tournament was first proposed, James called it “corny.”

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Last March following the suspension of the 2020 NBA season due to the pandemic, however, James was in favor of a play-in tournament due to the special circumstances.

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