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Over the last several weeks, there has been a lot of talk around the NBA about the play-in tournament set to take place at the end of the year, which will see the seventh seed play against the 10th seed while the eighth and ninth seeds battle, all with the final two postseason berths in each conference on the line. The seven and eight seeds will need to win only one game to advance, while the bottom two seeds would need to win both games.
Most notably, the Dallas Mavericks — perhaps not coincidentally, the current seventh seed in the West — have voiciferously complained about the play-in scenario and called it a mistake. Those gripes are probably at least a little self-interested, though, and it’s fair to say that not every NBA team feels quite so passionately.
“We’re not worried about the play-in, like at all,” Lakers forward Markieff Morris said earlier this week. “I don’t even know what the date is for that.”
His teammate, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, was just as — if not more so — unaware of and unworried about the specifics.
“Right now we’re trying to win games. We’re trying to stay out of that play-in, playoff thing, whatever it is,” Caldwell-Pope said on Tuesday. “We’re just trying to get another championship.”
But while opinions clearly differ in the NBA on the value of the play-in tournament, the majority of NBA fans have little doubt that it’s a good idea. According to a majority of the fans around the country that we surveyed in the most recent SB Nation Reacts poll, the play-in tournament is having the desired effect. Nearly two-thirds of fans believe the new format is keeping more teams engaged and preventing at least some organizations from tanking for a draft pick.
More than that, a nearly identical percentage of fans find the concept of a play-in game exciting.
For now, the playoff format is in place just for this season. However, if the league finds success with the play-in, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see it tried again.
But while the Lakers do look fairly set to not drop far enough in the standings from their current fifth seed to end up in the play-in game — especially with star forward Anthony Davis on the way back and LeBron James right behind him — that does not mean every single member of the fanbase is feeling as good as the team.
According to our latest survey, 91% of Lakers fans are confident the team is headed in the right direction. That’s down from 93% last week and 95% the week before, although it should be noted that results were collected right after the team’s blowout loss to the Utah Jazz, and 2% also isn’t that significant of a drop.
If the Lakers start to play better upon Davis’ return to the lineup, expect Lakers Exceptionalism to boost this number back up again next week.
To vote in the Reacts surveys and have your voice heard each week, sign up here. For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.