Zion Williamson and the Pelicans are not a fluke

If there’s one thing the NBA has benefited from in the past few years, it’s the installment of a play-in round as an extension of the league’s postseason.

In that strange 2020 bubble experience, we watched the teams that traveled to Orlando duke it out and saw the young Suns nearly sneak into the playoffs after reeling off eight consecutive wins—a run that set them up nicely the following year for a trip to the NBA Finals. Then in 2021, Ja Morant and the youthful Grizzlies stunned the Warriors in a play-in game and used the experience from a first-round loss to Utah as a springboard to finish as a vastly improved No. 2 seed last season.


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