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NBA In-Season Tournament Explained

SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 13, 2023 — Stephen Curry DongxXudong / IMAGO

The NBA introduced a new format this year through an in-season tournament which will be played alongside the regular season. The competition brings a number of new features such as new uniforms and up to $500,000 in incentives for the winning players and coaches. 

The tournament is designed to draw more viewership and interest to the early stages of the league’s regular season. The league tends to draw a much higher viewership at the back end of the season as the playoff race draws closer.

Tournament Format

All 30 NBA teams will be participating in the 67-game tournament over the next few weeks. Each team will play four games in a group stage and the top eight teams will advance to a knockout round. The semi finals and finals are scheduled to take place in early December in Las Vegas, where the winner of which are awarded the new “NBA Cup.”

The 30 teams have been put into 6 groups of 5 teams each. The top team from each group will advance to the knockout stage. There will also be two wildcard places given out to the two teams from each conference with the best record in Group Play games but finished second in its group.

In the event that two or more teams are tied within a group, the tie will be broken using the following tiebreakers (in sequential order):

  • Head-to-head record between the teams in the Group Stage
  • Point differential between the teams in the Group Stage
  • Total points scored by each team in the Group Stage
  • Regular season record from the 2022-23 NBA regular season

The in-season tournament takes place in parallel with the normal NBA season. This means that all games which are played in the tournament will also count towards a team’s regular season record. 

The tournament commenced on the 3rd of November and the group stage will continue until the 28th. The knockout round will begin on Dec. 4 and the final four teams will travel to Las Vegas, where a champion will be crowned on Dec. 9.

Incentives

Players and coaches on the team that wins the NBA Cup will get $500,000. Teams that place as runners-up will receive $200,000, semifinalists $100,000 and quarterfinalists $50,000. Assistant coaches will be part of a separate pool of money that will be worth 75% of the winning coaches.

In-Season Tournament Standings

So far every NBA team has played an in-season tournament game to kick-off the inaugural edition. Below are the six groups and standings thus far. Standings will be updated every Tuesday and Friday.

East Group A

  • Pacers: 2-0
  • Hawks: 1-0
  • 76ers: 1-1
  • Cavaliers: 0-1
  • Pistons 0-2

East Group B

  • Heat: 2-0
  • Bucks: 1-0
  • Hornets: 1-1
  • Knicks: 0-1
  • Wizards: 0-2

East Group C

  • Celtics: 1-0
  • Nets: 1-1
  • Bulls: 0-1
  • Raptors: 0-0
  • Magic: 0-0

West Group A

  • Jazz: 1-0
  • Lakers: 1-0
  • Trail Blazers: 1-0
  • Grizzlies: 0-2
  • Suns: 0-1

West Group B

  • Nuggets: 1-0
  • Rockets: 1-0
  • Mavericks: 1-1
  • Pelicans: 0-1
  • Clippers: 0-1

West Group C

  • Timberwolves: 1-0
  • Kings: 1-0
  • Warriors: 1-0
  • Spurs: 0-1
  • Thunder: 0-2

Next In-Season Tournament Games Schedule

The next batch of in-season tournament games will be played on Friday, November 17th.

TeamsGroupTime (PST)
Sacramento Kings vs. San Antonio SpursWest C8:30 a.m.
Phoenix Suns vs. Utah JazzWest A11 a.m.
Milwaukee Bucks vs. Charlotte HornetsEast B8 a.m.
New York Knicks vs. Washington WizardsEast B8 a.m.
Philadelphia 76ers vs. Atlanta HawksEast A8:30 a.m.
Detroit Pistons vs. Cleveland CavaliersEast A8:30 a.m.
Boston Celtics vs. Toronto RaptorsEast C8:30 a.m.
Orlando Magic vs. Chicago BullsEast C9 a.m.
Denver Nuggets vs. New Orleans PelicansWest B9:30 a.m.
LA Lakers vs. Portland Trail BlazersWest A11 a.m.
Houston Rockets vs. LA ClippersWest B11:30 a.m.