The Washington Wizards locked up the No. 8 seed on Sunday with a victory against the Charlotte Hornets, leading head coach Scott Brooks to take a playful jab at the play-in tournament and Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James.
Brooks, who has been a supporter of the play-in tournament in the past, said he was “with the King” when it came to the new wrinkle to the postseason.
“Why do they have this play-in thing? Whoever did that needs to be fired. It’s ridiculous,” Brooks said on May 16, channeling a rant earlier in the season from James. The veteran head quickly changed his tune. “I actually really believe in it and love it. It created so much excitement during the two weeks. Anytime you can create excitement and meaningful games in the last 10 games of the season, it’s great for everyone involved. … Now that we are the No. 8 need, I still love it.”
James Ripped NBA Over Play-in Tournament
James made it clear earlier this month after returning that he was not a fan of the play-in tournament.
“It don’t matter where we land. That’s my mindset. If it happens to be sixth, or fifth, or whatever the case may be. Or if we end up in that playoff, whatever that thing is. Whoever came up with that s*** needs to be fired,” James said.
Here’s a summary of how the play-in tournament will work, via NBA.com:
At the conclusion of the regular season but before the first round of the playoffs, the team with the 7th-highest winning percentage in each conference will host the team with the 8th-highest winning percentage in a Play-In Game (the “Seven-Eight Game”). The winner of the Seven-Eight Game in each conference will earn the No. 7 seed.
The team with the 9th-highest winning percentage in each conference will host the team with the 10th-highest winning percentage in the “Nine-Ten Game”. The loser of the Seven-Eight Game will host the winner of the Nine-Ten Game in a Play-In Game, and the winner of that game in each conference will earn the No. 8 seed.
The Lakers do not control their destiny on the final day of the season, needing a win and Portland to lose to move up to the No. 6 seed.
The Trail Blazers’ opponent, Denver, doesn’t have much to play for and is currently jockeying for position with the Clippers. A loss against the Blazers would mean the Nuggets would likely avoid the Lakers in the first round.
Brooks Has Been Vocal Supporter of Play-in Tournament
Brooks previously said he loves the play-in tournament and thinks it goes a long way in keeping teams from tanking late in the season.
“I love it. I’d love it, even if we weren’t in this position and we were at fifth or sixth spot. I think you should always try to make it as competitive as you possibly can,” he said.
“Nobody likes to talk about the word ‘tanking,’ but you shouldn’t. We’re all paid to do our job and you shouldn’t cheat the game of basketball. You should try to compete and win every game.”
The Wizards have been a fun team to watch down the stretch with triple-double king Russell Westbrook leading the way alongside Bradley Beal. Washington will take on a banged-up Celtics team in the Eastern Conference play-in.
If the Lakers do end up in the play-in after Sunday night’s games wrap-up, they’ll be facing the streaking Golden State Warriors.