A lot of people still don’t know how to feel about the NBA’s new In-Season Tournament. But like it or not, it is happening, and the schedule was just released.
Here’s how it works
- Teams are divided into six groups of five teams. There are three groups per conference. The Bulls group consists of the Celtics, Nets, Raptors and Magic.
2. Teams play each of the other teams in their group one time in the “group stage,” consisting of two home games and two away games. Games will take place on Tuesdays and Fridays in November.
The Bulls schedule is as follows:
The Bulls are one of 12 total teams and seven Eastern Conference teams without any of their In-Season Tournament games nationally televised. (I guess there is no appetite for a Play-In Game rematch!)
3. Based on their record in Group Play, eight teams advance to the Knockout Round. The teams that advance will be the winners of each group plus two Wild Cards, two teams in each conference with the best-remaining record in Group Play that finished with the second-best record in their group.
4. The Knockout Round consists of single-elimination games in the quarterfinals (December 4-5), Semifinals (December 7) and Finals (December 9), with the Semifinals and Championship games taking place in Las Vegas.
5. Because the matchups in the Knockout Round will depend on who wins during Group Play, the schedule for those games cannot yet be determined. The teams losing in the Quarterfinals will play each other on December 8th.
6. A formulaic approach will be taken to determine matchups for the teams that do not make the Knockout round.
Once the schedule is finalized, each team will end up playing 82 games, except for the teams that meet in the In-Season Tournament Championship Game, who will play 83.
I know there are mixed feelings about the NBA implementing this thing, and I can understand why. It’s a bit gimmicky and if the players don’t buy in, it will be a whiff. But generally speaking, I appreciate that the NBA is always willing to try new things.
Whether there are rules that need changing to improve the viewing experience and quality of the game or new incentives to improve the competitive balance of the league and importance of the regular season, it’s a good thing that the NBA is willing to progress. People were skeptical about the Play-In Tournament and that has been a smash hit. So hopefully the In-Season Tournament will follow suit and encourage some of these teams to take the regular season a little more seriously.
“The monetary prize will help guys get going,” Caruso told CHGO in April. “I’m sure it will be different from organization to organization. I’m sure a team that’s young or playing around .500 may really want to win that just to get guys used to playing in games that are meaningful.”
If not, there is no real downside. All of these games count just the same towards the regular season record, except the championship game, which will have stakes in its own right.
“I’m sure it will get better and better and we’ll probably amend some rules throughout the years to make sure it’s competitive and putting their best foot forward,” Caruso said.