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NBA In-Season Tournament explained: Format, schedule, groups, prize money, plus everything else to know

The NBA’s inaugural In-Season Tournament is here. The competition started Nov. 3, and will wrap up with the title game on Dec. 9. All NBA teams are competing for a new trophy with the 30 teams split into six groups. The In-Season Tournament features new boldly painted courts and the championship will be decided with a single-elimination knockout stage bracket once the competition is down to eight teams. The title game will be held in Las Vegas.

Still getting your In-Season Tournament bearings? We’re here to help. Below is is everything you need to know about the league’s latest event. 

What’s the format?

There are two parts to the In-Season Tournament: the group stage and the knockout rounds. Every team was randomly drawn into a group of five teams within their conference. They will play four group stage games, facing each team in their group once. The six group winners will advance to the knockout rounds along with two “wild card” teams — the team in each conference with the best record in the group stage games that did not win its group. The knockout rounds will be single elimination.

Every group stage game and the quarterfinals and semifinals will count as regular season games. The quarterfinals will be played in market with the the higher-seeded team hosting, while the semifinals and championship will be played at a neutral location in Las Vegas. The championship game will not count as a regular season game. 

What group is my team in?

The six groups were decided by a random draw after each team was placed into one of five pots to ensure an uniform alignment of quality. The first pot, for example, included the three teams in each conference with the best regular season record last season, while the second pot had the fourth through sixth-best records in each conference last season. And so on and so forth. 

Here’s a look at the six groups:

East Group A

Team Pot

Philadelphia 76ers

1

Cleveland Cavaliers

2

Atlanta Hawks

3

Indiana Pacers

4

Detroit Pistons

5

East Group B

Team Pot

Milwaukee Bucks

1

New York Knicks

2

Miami Heat

3

Washington Wizards

4

Charlotte Hornets

5

East Group C

Team Pot

Boston Celtics

1

Toronto Raptors

2

Brooklyn Nets

3

Chicago Bulls

4

Orlando Magic

5

West Group A

Team Pot

Memphis Grizzlies

1

Phoenix Suns

2

Los Angeles Lakers

3

Utah Jazz

4

Portland Trail Blazers

5

West Group B

Team Pot

Denver Nuggets

1

Los Angeles Clippers

2

New Orleans Pelicans

3

Dallas Mavericks

4

Houston Rockets

5

West Group C

Team Pot

Sacramento Kings

1

Golden State Warriors

2

Minnesota Timberwolves

3

Oklahoma City Thunder

4

San Antonio Spurs

5

When will it be held?

The In-Season Tournament began Nov. 3, with group stage games will running from Nov. 3-28. However, tournament games will take place exclusively on Tuesdays and Fridays. The quarterfinals will be played on Monday and Tuesday, Dec. 4-5, on the higher seed’s floor; then the action moves to Las Vegas for the semifinals on Thursday, Dec. 7; and the championship on Saturday, Dec. 9. 

You can view the full schedule here.

There are the tiebreakers? What are they?

The six group winners and two wild-card teams that advance to the knockout stages will be decided first on win-loss record. In the event that two teams are tied, either for first place in the group or a wild-card spot, the league will use a series of tiebreakers:

  1. Head-to-head record in the group stage
  2. Point differential in the group stage
  3. Total points in the group stage
  4. Regular season record from the 2022-23 season
  5. Random drawing (if, somehow, there are two teams still tied after the first four options)

What are the awards and prizes?

The winning team will receive a new trophy, called the NBA Cup. On an individual level, there will be an In-Season Tournament MVP and an all-tournament team. 

In addition, the league will establish a prize pool that will be allocated to teams that advance to the knockout stages. Players will earn more money the longer their team survives, with the title winners receiving the highest payout. Here’s a breakdown of the money up for grabs:

  • Players on a team that loses in the quarterfinals: $50,000
  • Players on a team that loses in the semifinals: $100,000
  • Players on a team that loses in the championship: $200,000
  • Players on a team that wins the championship: $500,000

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