Play-in game

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A play-in game[1] is a game, usually played at the beginning of a tournament or just prior to the tournament depending on how the tournament is defined. In a play-in, the lowest qualifiers and/or participants who have earned conditional qualification compete for qualification to the main portion of the tournament. This gives an added advantage to the higher or direct qualifiers, allowing them to rest and/or play non-elimination games, while the lower teams extend themselves by playing in elimination games. Further, teams that advance from a play-in must usually start the main tournament against the highest qualifier in the tournament and on the road. Having a play-in game allows for a tournament to have a number of teams that is not a power of two without having to grant byes in the main tournament. It also gives extra incentives for most if not all teams to play for, as better performing teams that would otherwise directly qualify relatively quickly instead have to try to continue winning, whether for the right to play a play-in qualifier and/or to avoid having to play in the extra game(s), while teams that would otherwise be eliminated from qualification just as quickly instead remain in contention for at least a play-in berth.


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  1. ^ The NBA is having real discussions about a playoffs play-in tournament Archived February 23, 2018, at the Wayback Machine (Feb 22, 2018) Retrieved Oct 10, 2018, from