Mark Cuban thinks the NBA Play-In tournament is the cause of all the playoff injuries

Editor’s Note (5/26/22): An earlier version of this column argued this year’s NBA playoff schedule was structured differently in past years, including the time between each series and the number of rest days for traveling teams. An NBA spokesperson says there have been no structural changes to the schedule. 

Mark Cuban has never been shy about letting everyone know what he thinks about the NBA as a product. He’s shot down ideas like an in-season NBA tournament despite it becoming a pretty popular idea around NBA circles.

Now, he’s coming out against a product the NBA already has — the play-in tournament.

The play-in is something Adam Silver has consistently vocalized that he wants to keep around for the NBA. It’s a product he thinks is good for the game. The tournament is fun! But it also had its downsides, too. We’ve written about them here.

There were already plenty of reasons to be anti-play-in tournament. But Mark Cuban seems to have come up with another one after seeing this year’s NBA playoffs play out.

He thinks the tournament’s slot in the NBA schedule is leading to more injury and fatigue during the actual postseason.

“As fun as the Play-In tournament was, it led to playoff games being played every other night. Which raises the question of whether that has led to teams being tired and possibly injured. We can’t extend the last day because of TV. Should the Play-In just be 8th seed or not at all? 

We are all seeing the effects this season has taken on some of the league’s top players. Marcus Smart is nursing an injured ankle. Jimmy Butler has an ailing knee. Robert Williams has been in and out of the lineup for the Celtics. Luka Doncic consistently looks gassed.

Let’s be honest about this. The play-in still isn’t going anywhere and Cuban’s comments aren’t going to change that. And if there’s going to be any change here, there needs to be something more than anecdotal evidence from Cuban’s observations.

But, regardless, this should at least lead to a conversation. Because at the end of it all, the job of the NBA is to put its best product on the floor. If the play-in needs to be adjusted to make that happen, that’s what the league needs to do.

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