NBA could put cap on point differential rule for In-Season Tournament

A lot of players, fans and perhaps some coaches weren’t big fans of one element of the In-Season Tournament. And that would be the rule that used point differential to break ties of team records in the Group stage.Bulls In-Season Tournament court

Basically, if your team finished 3-1 in Group play, as did a rival team, and they outscored their four opponents by more points than you did, they advanced. You stayed home.

But that led to teams trying to run up the score when outcomes had long been decided. That didn’t sit well with the people on the losing side. 

So that is expected to be among the tweaks the NBA will consider for next season, commissioner Adam Silver suggested. (Full post.)

And per Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports, the league could consider putting a “cap” on how much you can outscore an opponent. 

Fischer wrote that “several league figures have suggested putting a single-game cap on how many points a team can add to their differential, perhaps something like 25 points per contest.”

Silver mentioned that possibility, too.

“Maybe there’s some ways to tweak that where it only matters up to a certain point,” he told reporters.

Or maybe the league could shift to making defense the focus of tiebreakers.

Fischer wrote: “One coach told Yahoo Sports he would prefer to have the tiebreaker instead be points allowed, which could present the inverse of the point differential problem, and therefore encourage teams to defend until the clock strikes zero, as opposed to jacking up shots while opponents have already been brutally beaten. Other league personnel have offered the idea of quarters won, eliminating any end-of-game pressures.”

Either way, Silver suggested that changes to the point differential rule aren’t a sure thing, but it’s certainly something the league will consider.

“I’m not ready necessarily to move away from it, but if ultimately there’s going to be a sense, particularly from our American fans, that somehow it is an indication of poor sportsmanship, that’s not a good idea for us to be doing it,” he said.

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