The league’s first tournament of the season is scheduled to begin Friday, and while such a competition is familiar to international soccer fans, it is uncharted territory in the United States, where leagues typically only have one championship.
But unlike the English FA Cup or the less celebrated Leagues Cup in North America, the new in-season tournament combines the NBA’s 82-game regular season with group and knockout stages.
Simply put, teams won’t necessarily be playing basketball anymore, but the stakes have changed somewhat.
Here’s a preview of what to expect from the NBA’s grand experiment:
Donovan Mitchell and the Cavs will compete in the group stage of the event starting Friday
For the event, the courts were redesigned to allow fans to distinguish tournament games
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Every Tuesday and Friday in November (except next Tuesday, when there will be no games commemorating Election Day) is scheduled as tournament night. All games scheduled on these evenings are tournament games.
Paul George (left) and Victor Wembanyama (right) could win a title as early as December
There are six groups with five teams each; The teams play once against the other four teams in their group. The six group winners advance to the quarterfinals, as do two wildcard teams – the two best runners-up in the groups.
The quarterfinals will take place on December 4th and 5th with higher seeds; The semifinals will take place on December 7th in Las Vegas and the title game will take place on December 9th in Las Vegas.
There are 14 teams that begin play on Friday and 13 teams will play their first tournament games on November 10th. Orlando and Atlanta don’t begin their tournament schedules until November 14th, and Toronto doesn’t make its tournament debut until November 17th.
The 22 teams that do not make it to the quarterfinals will play scheduled regular season games on December 6th and 8th. Also on the schedule for December 8: regular season games between teams that lose quarterfinal games.
- East Group A – Philadelphia, Cleveland, Atlanta, Indiana and Detroit.
- East Group B – Milwaukee, New York, Miami, Washington and Charlotte.
- East Group C – Boston, Brooklyn, Toronto, Chicago and Orlando.
- West Group A – Memphis, Phoenix, the Los Angeles Lakers, Utah and Portland.
- West Group B – Denver, the Los Angeles Clippers, New Orleans, Dallas and Houston.
- West Group C – Sacramento, Golden State, Minnesota, Oklahoma City and San Antonio.
WHY IS THIS HAPPENING?
There are many reasons, but reviews are at the top of the list. The new courts are designed to attract the attention of broadcasters and get their attention (in the hope that they will stop to watch the games), and it is no coincidence that this tournament takes place before Christmas – traditionally, if more People start watching the NBA. Anything that gets more attention in November and early December is a plus.
There is a cash incentive, $500,000 per player on the winning team, and smaller prizes ($50,000 to $200,000 per player) for the other teams that make it to the quarterfinals and semifinals. This equates to a total prize pool of approximately $18 million.
And it should add a little more meaning to the games at the start of the season.
“I think they embraced the ideal of playing for something in the middle of the season,” Brooklyn coach Jacque Vaughn said. “I think it’s good for our game, which I’m always happy about.”…You like being the best at what you do. “It’s an opportunity to be the best at something, let’s try it.”
Also at stake: the NBA Cup. Fans will see images of the new trophy scattered around the pitches throughout the tournament. There will also be an MVP and an All-Tournament team.
Kristaps Porzingis and his Celtics teammates could each win $500,000 in the tournament
DO THE GAMES COUNT?
Yes, except the championship game. Each game in the tournament counts as one of the 82 regular season games that all teams will play this season.
The reason the championship game doesn’t count is that the teams in this tie will end up playing 83 games – and it makes no sense in the standings if two teams play one more game than the other 28 clubs.
The teams had 80 game schedules in the summer. Games 81 and 82 will be either the crossover games on December 6th and 8th or the quarterfinals and semifinals.
What about these dishes?
Each team will have a different, repainted home court for this tournament – mostly solid color, with a stripe down the middle of the floor and images of the NBA Cup at both midcourt and in the foul lanes.
It will be particularly different in Boston, where parquet will be temporarily cleared away.
The Celtics will play a home game on a non-parquet floor for the first time in club history
When the then Celtic owner Walter Brown wanted a place for his new team in 1946, only scrap wood was available due to shortages after the Second World War. Therefore, the floor court was used and became a permanent fixture for the team when it moved full-time to Boston Garden in 1952.
But there is no floor for games in Boston during this tournament.
What do the odds say?
Think of the tournament like this: a four-game regular season before the playoffs. Since there are only four games to decide who advances from each group, expect surprises. A two-game losing streak in the tournament could be difficult to overcome.
According to FanDuel Sportsbook, Boston is the 8-1 favorite. Milwaukee and Denver have odds of 8.5:1, while the Lakers and Golden State have odds of 12:1.