For this 2023-2024 season, the NBA has decided to innovate. Locked into its scheme with 82 regular season games and playoffs at the end of the season to determine the champion, the American league decided to create a new competition to revive the interest of the first six months. For the first time, an "In-Season Tournament" has been launched, which will have its epilogue on Saturday 9 December. But what does this tournament look like?
In fact, the competition is already well underway. Since the beginning of November, the 30 NBA teams have been competing on Tuesdays and Fridays, on special extremely colorful floors, in games that count double. Indeed, they are both important for this mid-season tournament, but also for the final standings of the regular season. A total of three groups of five teams were drawn in each conference. The five "pots" in this draw were determined based on last season's standings.
The Elite Eight of the NBA's In-Season Tournament is set. pic.twitter.com/mni3Pi2TOY
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) November 29, 2023
$500,000 per player up for grabs
Within each group, all the teams played each other once in these famous double-header matches. With all the matches over, a ranking has been established. All teams that finished top of their pool advance to the quarterfinals, as does the best runner-up in each conference. That's where we are in the competition on Monday, just before the start of the quarter-finals, scheduled for next night.
Only eight franchises can still compete in this first "In-Season Tournament", which offers a very interesting prize pool. Each player on the winning team will take home $500,000, while the runners-up will win $200,000 each. It will be $100,000 for the semi-finalists and $50,000 for the quarterfinalists. For the other franchises, they leave empty-handed. This is notably the case of Victor Wembanyama's San Antonio Spurs, who have lost all four of their games counting for this new competition.
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A Final Four in Las Vegas
The line-ups for the quarter-finals are therefore known. The Indiana Pacers will host the Boston Celtics on Monday night, at the same time as the Sacramento Kings, who will host the New Orleans Pelicans. The following night, the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers will face the New York Knicks and Phoenix Suns, respectively. It should be noted that these four games also count towards the 82 regular season games.
The serious stuff will then begin in Las Vegas at a Final Four. The four teams that won at the start of the week will first play the two semi-finals on Thursday night, two days before the grand final. Unlike the previous ones, these last three games do not count towards the NBA regular season standings. But given the announced winnings and the title at stake, the teams should still field their best soldiers with a first trophy in their sights this season.