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NBA Cup: Inaugural In-Season Tournament Coming in November

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The NBA made an official announcement over the weekend, revealing details of the upcoming In-Season Tournament set to debut during the 2023-24 season.

The tournament consists of two parts: the group stage and the knockout rounds. Teams were randomly assigned to groups of five within their conference. Each team will play four group stage games, competing against all teams within their group once. The six group winners will progress to the knockout rounds, joined by two “wild card” teams—the best-performing teams in each conference that did not win their respective groups. The knockout rounds will employ a single-elimination format.

All group stage games, quarterfinals, and semifinals will count as regular season games. The quarterfinals will take place in the market of the higher-seeded team, while the semifinals and championship will be held at a neutral location in Las Vegas. Importantly, the championship game will not contribute to regular season standings.

The group assignments were determined through a random draw, ensuring a balanced distribution of teams. Teams were categorized based on their performance in the previous regular season, with each group containing teams of similar quality.

Here is a breakdown of the six groups:

East Group A

  • Philadelphia 76ers (1)
  • Cleveland Cavaliers (2)
  • Atlanta Hawks (3)
  • Indiana Pacers (4)
  • Detroit Pistons (5)

East Group B

  • Milwaukee Bucks (1)
  • New York Knicks (2)
  • Miami Heat (3)
  • Washington Wizards (4)
  • Charlotte Hornets (5)

East Group C

  • Boston Celtics (1)
  • Toronto Raptors (2)
  • Brooklyn Nets (3)
  • Chicago Bulls (4)
  • Orlando Magic (5)

West Group A

  • Memphis Grizzlies (1)
  • Phoenix Suns (2)
  • Los Angeles Lakers (3)
  • Utah Jazz (4)
  • Portland Trail Blazers (5)

West Group B

  • Denver Nuggets (1)
  • Los Angeles Clippers (2)
  • New Orleans Pelicans (3)
  • Dallas Mavericks (4)
  • Houston Rockets (5)

West Group C

  • Sacramento Kings (1)
  • Golden State Warriors (2)
  • Minnesota Timberwolves (3)
  • Oklahoma City Thunder (4)
  • San Antonio Spurs (5)

The tournament is scheduled to begin on November 3rd, with the group stage games running until November 28th. However, tournament games will exclusively take place on Tuesdays and Fridays. The quarterfinals are set for December 4th-5th, hosted by the higher seeds, while the semifinals will be held in Las Vegas on December 7th. The championship game will be played on December 9th.

In the event of ties, the league has established tiebreakers to determine the group winners and wild-card teams. These include head-to-head record in the group stage, point differential in the group stage, total points in the group stage, regular season record from the previous season, and, if necessary, a random drawing.

The tournament will feature several awards and prizes. The winning team will receive the newly introduced NBA Cup trophy. Additionally, there will be individual accolades such as the In-Season Tournament MVP and an all-tournament team. Furthermore, the league has designated a prize pool that will be distributed among teams advancing to the knockout stages. Players will earn higher payouts as their teams progress, with the championship-winning team receiving the largest share. Here is the breakdown of the prize money:

  • Players on a team losing in the quarterfinals: $50,000
  • Players on a team losing in the semifinals: $100,000
  • Players on a team losing in the championship: $200,000
  • Players on the championship-winning team: $500,000

The introduction of the In-Season Tournament brings more excitement and competitiveness to the NBA landscape, offering fans and players alike a unique twist to the regular season schedule.

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