All 30 teams will participate in the first NBA In-Season Tournament. Teams will compete for the NBA Cup, and individual players will have the opportunity to win prizes such as MVP and All-Tournament Team money. The league wanted to generate more excitement and interest in the early part of the regular season. Thus, the in-season tournament was born.
NBA Tournament Format
Group Play and Knockout Rounds are the two stages of the NBA In-Season Tournament. For group play, the 30 NBA teams have been divided into six groups of five teams, three from each conference. It’s very similar to how international soccer tournaments are played.
During group play, each team will play every other team once. In each group, the squad with the best record advances to the Knockout Rounds. The three group winners plus a wild card team advance to the Knockout Rounds. The wild card team is the one with the best record that did not win its group.
There are a series of tiebreakers to break any ties to determine either group winners or wild card teams. The tiebreakers are:
- Group play head-to-head record
- Point differential in group play
- Total points scored in group play
- Last season’s regular season record
- Random draw
In total eight teams—four from each conference—will proceed to the Knockout Rounds.
Teams that make it to the knockout round will be seeded based upon their group play performance. Group winners will be seeded No. 1, 2, and 3. The wild card team will always be the No. 4 seed.
In the quarterfinals, the No. 1 seed will play the No. 4 seed and No. 2 plays No. 3. The quarterfinals, or Knockout Rounds, is single-elimination play. Once you lose, you are knocked out of the tournament.
T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, a neutral court, will host the Semifinals and Championship. The two remaining teams from each conference will play one another in the Semifinals. The Western Conference and Eastern Conference champions will compete for the In-Season Tournament Championship.
With the exception of the championship, all NBA In-Season Tournament games will be taken into account for regular season standings and statistics.
NBA Tournament Dates
Futures markets for NBA Tournament wagering during the season have already opened. The tournament began last Tuesday, November 3, and ends on December 9, with the championship game.
Group plays is scheduled for November. Tournament games will be played on Tuesdays and Fridays during November with the exception of last night, which was Election Day. Group play resumes this Friday. Each team plays two home games and two away games in group play.
Group play ends on November 28. The quarterfinals begin on December 4 with the semifinals on December 7. Again, the final is scheduled for December 9.
Betting the In-Season Tourney
There are a few key points to consider when betting the in-season tournament. Motivation is a big one. The real prize in the NBA is winning the NBA Finals next June. Top teams may be more focused on future games than the in-season tournament. Star players on teams not likely to make the playoffs will probably be extremely motivated because they can add several hundred thousand dollars to their bank accounts depending upon their performances in the tournament.
It would be wise to review how teams have played at the beginning of the season. Many NBA teams made significant changes in the offseason. It’s worth taking some time to see how certain teams are playing at this point in the season.
The other thing to look at is head-to-head records. The group play schedule has been known for some time. It’s worth checking how teams have fared against each other in recent history. They may have even played each other this season already. Take the 76ers as an example. They are off to a 6-1 start through seven games this season. Philly had a winning record against all four teams in their group last year and, collectively, went 12-2 against them last year.
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