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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Friday, June 21, 2024

3-Point Play: Play-in viability, injury updates and new Timberwolves ownership

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As we enter the final month of the NBA’s regular season, the fourth through 10th seeds of the Eastern Conference remain in flux while the league’s elites have established themselves as the teams to beat in this year’s playoffs. However, injuries to key contributors on contenders threaten playoff and championship hopes for many teams, the new play-in tournament has fallen under scrutiny and one team is soon to be under new ownership.

Players and owners criticize new play-in tournament

Prior to the release of regular-season schedules last November, the NBAannounced the approval of a play-in tournament, similar to the one used in the NBA bubble last summer. Under this new format, teams that finish as the seventh through 10th seeds in their respective conferences qualify for a play-in tournament that determines the seventh and eighth seeds in each conference. The tournament will be double elimination for the teams that finished the regular season seventh and eighth and single elimination for the ninth and 10th teams.

However, not everyone is on board with this new format. Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic and owner Mark Cuban have bothcriticized the new format, with Cuban calling it “an enormous mistake.” Both argue that the new format places even more physical stress on players, especially stars that are already playing big minutes in the regular season. For teams that tend to rest players, such as the Mavericks, every game down the stretch could have major implications for playoff seeding.

Contenders missing stars, young players go down

Prior to this past week, many of basketball’s biggest names have beeninjured and are currently missing time. Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis has missed the last 26 games with a calf strain, although he could return within the next two weeks. LeBron James is still out with an ankle sprain that has cost him his last 13 games. Charlotte Hornets forward Gordon Hayward and rookie guard LaMelo Ball are still out with a sprained foot and broken wrist, respectively. Even more recently, Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray suffered a torn ACL, ending his season and dealing a crushing blow to the Nuggets’ hopes of a deep playoff run. To add to the injury bug, Golden State Warriors rookie James Wiseman recently suffered a torn meniscus, likely bringing an end to a solid rookie season.

Timberwolves under new ownership

In news that Timberwolves fans are sure to celebrate, longtime majority ownerGlen Taylor is selling the Minnesota Timberwolves to former MLB player Alex Rodriguez and billionaire Marc Lore for around $1.5 billion.While Taylor is likely the reason Minnesota has an NBA team today, the team’s performance and draft record have been less than desirable. The Timberwolves havemissed the playoffs in 16 out of the last 17 years, have not advanced past the first round more than once and have missed out on some big names in drafts, most notably in 2009 when the Timberwolvestook two guards over Stephen Curry. Timberwolves fans will hope that new ownership can turn this franchise around, although whether the team will stay inMinneapolis remains to be seen.

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