NBA In-Season Tournament: Knockstage Set

The NBA In-Season Tournament bracket is now set. The 30-team group stage portion of the first ever In-Season Tournament has been narrowed down to just eight teams. The knockout round will begin early next week with quarterfinal games on Monday and Tuesday. The games will be held on the home floor of the four highest seeded teams: the Bucks, Pacers in the East and Laker and Kings in the West.

The winners of the quarterfinals will play the teams in their respective conferences on Thursday, Dec. 7 in Las Vegas, with the final taking place two days later. The winner will receive the first NBA Cup, but the title game will not count toward the league’s 82-game regular season standings.Β 

NBA In-Season Tournament
IMAGO / Xinhua

All games except for the final will count toward regular-season records. A $500,000 payout will go towards every player and coach on the winning team. Each quarterfinal team is guaranteed a payout of at least $50,000. Assistant coaches will have the chance to be part of a separate pool of money that will be worth 75% of the winning coaches.

In-Season Tournament Quarterfinals Schedule

East No. 3 Boston Celtics at East No. 2 Indiana Pacers, 7:30 p.m. ET Monday 

West No. 3 New Orleans Pelicans at West No. 2 Sacramento Kings, 10 p.m. ET Monday

East No. 4 New York Knicks at East No. 1 Milwaukee Bucks, 7:30 p.m. ET Tuesday 

West No. 4 Phoenix Suns at West No. 1 Los Angeles Lakers, 10 p.m. ET Tuesday

In-Season Tournament Picks and Predictions

The Boston Celtics enter the tournament as favourites according to many of the top bookmakers. Boston went 3-1 in the group stage, with the team’s one loss coming at Orlando to the Magic. 

The Celtics earned the No. 3 seed, which means the Celtics will have to play their quarterfinal on the road against Indiana. Indiana has been the NBA’s highest-scoring team with an explosive offense led by point guard Tyrese Haliburton. While Boston have started the season 8-0 at home they have only been 6-4 on the road. Indiana will likely be a tough test for Boston.

If the Celtics do manage to beat Indiana, they will go on to face either Milwalkee or New York. Given how Milwakee has been playing the past couple of weeks, we expect the Bucks to handle the Knicks easily at home. 

In the West, the Lakers won Group A with an undefeated record of 4-0 while the Pelicans won group B with a record of 3-1. The Phoenix Suns and Houston Rockets also qualified for the quarterfinals with records of 3-1 and 2-2 respectively. 

The Lakers have shown respite being on 12-9 on the season that they can win when needed. They enter the tournament as favourites to make the finals from the West with a home game against the Suns in the quarterfinals. 

In the other quarterfinal the Rockets will travel to Sacramento to play the Kings. The Rockets have a losing record of 8-9 in the regular season and are the biggest underdog in the tournament.

In-Season Tournament Group Stage Standings

Found below are the group stage standings for the in-season tournament. The top team from each group qualified for the quarter final stage along with one wild card team from each conference. In the case of a tie the team with the highest point differential will advance.

East Group A

  • Pacers: 4-0
  • Cavaliers: 3-1
  • 76ers: 2-2
  • Hawks: 1-3
  • Pistons 0-4

East Group B

  • Bucks: 4-0
  • Knicks: 3-1
  • Heat: 2-2
  • Hornets: 1-3
  • Wizards: 0-4

East Group C

  • Celtics: 3-1
  • Magic: 3-1
  • Nets: 3-1
  • Raptors: 1-3
  • Wizards: 0-4

West Group A

  • Lakers: 4-0
  • Suns: 3-1
  • Jazz: 2-2
  • Trail Blazers: 1-3
  • Grizzlies: 0-4

West Group B

  • Pelicans: 3-1
  • Rockets: 2-2
  • Mavericks: 2-2
  • Nuggets: 2-2
  • Clippers: 1-3

West Group C

  • Kings: 4-0
  • TImberwolves: 3-1
  • Warriors: 2-2
  • Thunder: 1-3
  • Spurs: 0-4