There have been plenty of mixed feelings on the postseason play-in tournament since it was made official before the start of the 2020-2021 season. NBA stars like Luka Doncic and Draymond Green have voiced their frustration, with Mark Cuban also expressing some issues with it, at least when it comes to this season.
However, Stephen Curry is all in on the idea and is looking forward to it because of the opportunity it is giving his team. With the Charlotte Hornets sitting in the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference, they should agree with the two-time MVP on the positives of the play-in tournament.
If the NBA decided to stick with the old playoff format, every game down the stretch of the season would be more nerve-racking because of the teams beneath them trying to knock them out of the spot. Now, every game is still important, but they have a little more breathing room. Not to mention that they have a chance to move up to the seventh seed if they manage to maintain their current positioning.
Also, the Hornets are one of the youngest teams in the league, so an early start to the postseason would not be a bad thing for them. Only four guys on their roster have playoff experience, so getting guys like LaMelo Ball, Miles Bridges, and P.J. Washington acclimated would be crucial for their success.
If the Hornets can manage to stay in the seventh or eighth spot, it will also give them some insurance. If they lose the first game of the play-in tournament, they still have a chance to secure the eighth spot if they beat the winner of the 9-10 matchup. The Hornets have played some of their best basketball against East opponents. They have a winning record against the Miami Heat and stole games against the Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks. They play up to the competition on a nightly basis. Having to play teams at the bottom should feel like a nice warmup leading up to the main event because they will have to play the one or two seed if they make it out of the play-in tournament.
The Hornets are a scrappy bunch and have been playing steady basketball all season. Despite some injury setbacks, they still find themselves in a perfect position to make some noise out East. This tournament will be a perfect measuring stick to see how much they have grown not only this season but for the last couple of seasons that James Borrego has been at the helm. Dominating this new format and then potentially stealing a game or two from a top seed in the conference would have to be considered successful season for Charlotte.
Hopefully, the Hornets can get LaMelo Ball and Gordon Hayward back soon. Of course, if they can claim their way up to the sixth spot, that would be awesome, but they will be satisfied with a play-in berth.