The NBA has unveiled the schedule of its inaugural in-season tournament.
All 30 teams will compete in the tourney, which will tip off November 3 with group play matchups and culminate in the championship December 9 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The winning team will hoist the sport’s newest trophy—the NBA Cup. The NBA released its complete game schedule and TV matchups for group play on Tuesday afternoon. The rest of the NBA’s 2023-24 regular season schedule will be released on Thursday.
Forgot this was happening? Confused how the tournament works? You’re not alone.
Here’s an explanation of the NBA’s new competition.
Why does the NBA have an in-season tournament this year?
The in-season tournament is debuting in 2023 to “provide players and teams with another competition to win, engage fans in a new way, and drive additional interest in the early portion of the regular-season schedule,” the NBA said on its website.
This will now be an annual tournament for all 30 teams.
How does the tournament work and what is group play?
All 30 teams have been randomly drawn into groups of five within their conference based on win-loss records from last season, the NBA said. Each team will compete in four group play games—one game against each opponent in its group. Two games will be played at home and two will be played on the road for every team.
“Before the group play draw, each team was placed into a ‘pot’ based on its record from the prior regular season (2022-23),” the NBA said on its website. “In each conference, one team from each pot was randomly selected into each of the three groups in that conference. Pot 1 had the teams with the three best prior-season records in a conference, Pot 2 had the teams with the fourth- through sixth-best prior-season records in a conference, and so on through Pot 5.”
Here are the groups:
Group East A: Philadelphia 76ers, Cleveland Cavaliers, Atlanta Hawks, Indiana Pacers, Detroit Pistons.
Group East B: Milwaukee Bucks, New York Knicks, Miami Heat, Washington Wizards, Charlotte Hornets.
Group East C: Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Toronto Raptors, Chicago Bulls, Orlando Magic.
Group West A: Memphis Grizzlies, Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Lakers, Utah Jazz, Portland Trail Blazers.
Group West B: Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Clippers, New Orleans Pelicans, Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets.
Group West C: Sacramento Kings, Golden State Warriors, Minnesota Timberwolves, Oklahoma City Thunder, San Antonio Spurs.
The team with the best standing in each group will advance to the knockout rounds in similar fashion to various soccer tournaments. One “wild card” team will also advance in each conference. The wild card spots will go to the teams in the East and West that had the best record in group play games and finished second in their groups.
The knockout rounds will consist of single-elimination games. This includes the quarterfinals, semifinals and tournament championship.
When is the NBA in-season tournament?
Group play games begin November 3 and run through the end of the month. Games during this stage will take place on Tuesdays and Fridays. The only NBA games scheduled will be group play games on these “tournament nights.”
This excludes Election Day on November 7, the NBA said.
The second stage of the tournament, the knockout rounds, will have the following schedule:
- Quarterfinals (December 4-5).
- Semifinals (December 7).
- Championship (December 9).
Here is the full schedule:
Every tournament game will be played in NBA team markets with the exception of the semifinals and championship, which will be played at a neutral site—T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
What will the winning NBA team get?
The winning team of the in-season tournament will take home the NBA Cup.
The players on the winning team will additionally each get $500,000, according to ESPN. The runners-up will get $200,000, while the losing players in the semifinals will receive $100,000 and the losers in the quarterfinals will net $50,000.
A tournament MVP and an all-tournament team will be named.
Does the in-season tournament impact the NBA playoffs?
The in-season tournament does not impact the format of the NBA playoffs. All in-season tournament games will count toward the regular-season standings, however. This excludes the championship, which will sit outside of the regular season.
Every team will still play 82 regular-season games.