Now, with the NBA’s first in-season tournament starting tonight, Nov. 3, you should probably have some idea of how it works, so let’s break it down.
The league’s 32 teams are split into six groups of five teams, with three groups each from the Eastern and Western conferences. The teams were grouped on their regular season record from last season and then drawn randomly, similar to the World Cup.
Then, throughout the month, each team will play one game against all their fellow group members, and the winners move on to a single elimination tournament. Then, each winner from the Western and Eastern Conference will face off in Las Vegas, with the winner taking home bragging rights, $500,000 per player and a new trophy called the NBA Cup.
The losers don’t emerge empty-handed as they each pocket $100,000, and those who don’t make it past the quarterfinal even get $50,000, capping off a prize pool of around $18 million.
Tonight, the inaugural tournament starts with seven games: Cavaliers at Pacers (who played each other just a week ago), Knicks at Bucks, Warriors at Thunder, Nets at Bulls, Wizards at Heat, Grizzlies at Trail Blazers and Mavericks at Nuggets.
Players and fans alike have been nonchalant about the confusing tourney and failed to understand it.
“I’m not even going to lie. I don’t even know what’s going on,” Los Angeles Clipper Bones Hyland said about the new tourney, according to LA Times’ Andrew Greif.
Back when NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced the idea in July, he revealed the idea’s been floating around NBA brass for years.
“This is a concept that has been rumbling around the league office for about 15 years,” Silver said. “It’s not a new concept in sports. For those that follow particularly international soccer, it’s a long tradition of having in-season tournaments … so we thought, what a perfect opportunity for a global league like the NBA, and it’s a perfect fit for our game.
See how fans reacted to the tournament being announced over the summer below.
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