NBA In-Season Tournament 2023 Discussion and Gamethread

InstaFace

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We need one. I edited the Wikipedia page for the 2023 event the other day (also note the general page for it), so I'm mildly emotionally committed and might as well start the thread.

Here is our previous thread from July on the proposal and format evolution. I'll quote a few of the more interesting posts below.

BJ gives tonight's schedule:

https://www.cbssports.com/nba/news/nba-in-season-tournament-how-to-watch-schedule-tv-live-stream-first-night-of-games/

East Group A: Cleveland Cavaliers at Indiana Pacers
  • Date: Friday, Nov. 3 | Time: 7 p.m. ET
  • Location: Gainsbridge Fieldhouse -- Indianapolis, Indiana
  • TV channel: None | Streaming: League Pass
  • Odds: Not yet released
East Group B: New York Knicks at Milwaukee Bucks
  • Date: Friday, Nov. 3 | Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
  • Location: Fiserv Forum -- Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • TV channel: ESPN | Streaming: fuboTV (Try for free)
  • Odds: Not yet released
West Group C: Golden State Warriors at Oklahoma City Thunder
  • Date: Friday, Nov. 3 | Time: 8 p.m. ET
  • Location: Paycom Center -- Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
  • TV channel: None | Streaming: League Pass
  • Odds: Not yet released
East Group C: Brooklyn Nets at Chicago Bulls
  • Date: Friday, Nov. 3 | Time: 8 p.m. ET
  • Location: United Center -- Chicago, Illinois
  • TV channel: None | Streaming: League Pass
  • Odds: Bulls -3.5 | O/U: 220.5
East Group B: Washington Wizards at Miami Heat
  • Date: Friday, Nov. 3 | Time: 8 p.m. ET
  • Location: Kaseya Arena -- Miami, Florida
  • TV channel: None | Streaming: League Pass
  • Odds: Heat -9.5 | O/U: 226
West Group A: Memphis Grizzlies at Portland Trail Blazers
  • Date: Friday, Nov. 3 | Time: 10 p.m. ET
  • Location: Moda Center -- Portland, Oregon
  • TV channel: None | Streaming: League Pass
  • Odds: Grizzlies -2 | O/U: 218.5
West Group B: Dallas Mavericks at Denver Nuggets
  • Date: Friday, Nov. 3 | Time: 10 p.m. ET
  • Location: Ball Arena -- Denver, Colorado
  • TV channel: ESPN | Streaming: fuboTV (Try for free)
  • Odds: Not yet released
Love the time-staggered starts there, except for the last 2.

I think the concept has tremendous potential. Right now, though, what sold the players and thus the union on it was that it involves only NBA teams, and doesn't add more games that they need to play (except solely for the Final). So I expect that to continue for a few years, until there's a general understanding / consensus that this is fun, and then we can put in the next CBA that (say) the regular season starts a week earlier, but we're going to add some tournament with net-new games, which involve teams from other leagues and stuff.

My only negative thought on the format right now is that the fact that there's a wildcard team from each conference means that it's not quite single-elimination, you can lose your group and still maybe advance.

On a more positive note: If there's a 3-way tie atop a group (each team 1-1 vs the others), it'll come down to point differential as to who advances, who is maybe through as the wildcard, and who is out. This means unlike any other NBA game ever, the teams have an incentive to win by as many points as humanly possible. That alone should add some amount of fun. Imagine a team starting a game on the final night of group play (Nov 28), knowing that they need to win by 25 in order to advance, or by 15 in order to finish 2nd and maybe advance. Any less than that and they still get the win in the standings, but they're out of the tournament. Tell me that won't be awesome.
 

lovegtm

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We need one. I edited the Wikipedia page for the 2023 event the other day (also note the general page for it), so I'm mildly emotionally committed and might as well start the thread.

Here is our previous thread from July on the proposal and format evolution. I'll quote a few of the more interesting posts below.

BJ gives tonight's schedule:



Love the time-staggered starts there, except for the last 2.

I think the concept has tremendous potential. Right now, though, what sold the players and thus the union on it was that it involves only NBA teams, and doesn't add more games that they need to play (except solely for the Final). So I expect that to continue for a few years, until there's a general understanding / consensus that this is fun, and then we can put in the next CBA that (say) the regular season starts a week earlier, but we're going to add some tournament with net-new games, which involve teams from other leagues and stuff.

My only negative thought on the format right now is that the fact that there's a wildcard team from each conference means that it's not quite single-elimination, you can lose your group and still maybe advance.

On a more positive note: If there's a 3-way tie atop a group (each team 1-1 vs the others), it'll come down to point differential as to who advances, who is maybe through as the wildcard, and who is out. This means unlike any other NBA game ever, the teams have an incentive to win by as many points as humanly possible. That alone should add some amount of fun. Imagine a team starting a game on the final night of group play (Nov 28), knowing that they need to win by 25 in order to advance, or by 15 in order to finish 2nd and maybe advance. Any less than that and they still get the win in the standings, but they're out of the tournament. Tell me that won't be awesome.
I'm not worried about the wildcard: this is how most group play works in every sport that does it. Everyone knows that single-elim starts after group play ends.

I don't see how this doesn't end up being really, really fun and great basketball. I think I'm going to care a lot whether the Celtics win. Not "did they win the Finals?" care, but maybe "did they make the ECF?" care.

I could see in the future it becoming a bigger deal to win the "double" than to "just" win the Finals. We see this in tennis/golf where winning a "grand slam" is a lot more pressure than winning a major, even with just winning a major being very hard.
 

lexrageorge

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My impression is that a lot of players are bought in. I think fan interest will grow once people understand that this tournament does not add any new games to the schedule, aside from the 2 finalists. Be interesting to see the ratings for the Final in Las Vegas. I honestly see no downside to this experiment.

As I noted in another thread, coaches will coach to win the tournament games, and players will respond accordingly. Still, I do believe the bench players will get a lot more playing time than they would in the playoffs; there are still back-to-backs and travel to consider, at least during the round-robin stage. But the Vegas games may appear closer to playoff intensity.
 

Pablo's TB Lover

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Maybe this is a trial balloon to see if the buy-in is there before coordinating with the network partners, but I would have liked to see it more like a postseason tournament with ALL the games broadcast on national TV channels. Not sure if keeping many of these exclusive to League Pass will really help increase subscriptions there or not.

Have ESPN use ESPN2 and Turner use TBS or TruTV to be able to broadcast concurrent games all night. While the championship games are nice, there is nothing I am into more than the first round of March Madness when you have a bunch of games to flip between. That would be a nice goal to work towards, at least.
 

Spelunker

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I may be thinking about this incorrectly, but does it seem odd to anyone else that this is kicking off only a few games into the season?
 

InstaFace

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I may be thinking about this incorrectly, but does it seem odd to anyone else that this is kicking off only a few games into the season?
No, but only because that's when the window is to have a marquee sports event on the annual calendar. Before the college bowl games, before christmas or the NFL playoffs, but after the World Series. What else is happening the next 4-5 weeks in the sports world, particularly on weeknights? Some golf? The tennis ATP Finals? It's perfect timing for TV and fan interest.

Now, if you're asking instead "when would be an ideal time within the NBA season to do this, absent all external considerations?", that's different. Maybe you'd move the all-star game to like March and put the tournament in January into February when things feel like they're dragging a bit more, but we're not yet into the final rush towards the playoffs. But you'd also be facing a greater number of star injuries at that point, just from the season's odometer being higher overall. Maybe some teams would already be sorta out-of-it on the standings front and not giving as much of a shit as the teams who see themselves as title contenders and want the in-season tournament to be a postseason preview for them. So I could argue that doing it later, even if it made sense theoretically, wouldn't be an improvement in practice.
 

HomeRunBaker

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No, but only because that's when the window is to have a marquee sports event on the annual calendar. Before the college bowl games, before christmas or the NFL playoffs, but after the World Series. What else is happening the next 4-5 weeks in the sports world, particularly on weeknights? Some golf? The tennis ATP Finals? It's perfect timing for TV and fan interest.

Now, if you're asking instead "when would be an ideal time within the NBA season to do this, absent all external considerations?", that's different. Maybe you'd move the all-star game to like March and put the tournament in January into February when things feel like they're dragging a bit more, but we're not yet into the final rush towards the playoffs. But you'd also be facing a greater number of star injuries at that point, just from the season's odometer being higher overall. Maybe some teams would already be sorta out-of-it on the standings front and not giving as much of a shit as the teams who see themselves as title contenders and want the in-season tournament to be a postseason preview for them. So I could argue that doing it later, even if it made sense theoretically, wouldn't be an improvement in practice.
Agreed that it is the perfect timing. It is why the MAC has their TV deal for Tues/Wed nights this time of year.
 

Pablo's TB Lover

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I may be thinking about this incorrectly, but does it seem odd to anyone else that this is kicking off only a few games into the season?
The good part about it being so early is in the "hope springs eternal" department, maybe only a couple of fanbases are thinking this season will be an unmitigated disaster. So it truly is an open tournament where at least teams aren't entering with a 1-18 record yet.
 

lovegtm

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My impression is that a lot of players are bought in. I think fan interest will grow once people understand that this tournament does not add any new games to the schedule, aside from the 2 finalists. Be interesting to see the ratings for the Final in Las Vegas. I honestly see no downside to this experiment.

As I noted in another thread, coaches will coach to win the tournament games, and players will respond accordingly. Still, I do believe the bench players will get a lot more playing time than they would in the playoffs; there are still back-to-backs and travel to consider, at least during the round-robin stage. But the Vegas games may appear closer to playoff intensity.
I don't think we'll see heavy bench player usage. When there are b2bs (are there any?), teams will be encouraged by the league to rest guys in the non-tournament game.
 

Red Averages

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Celtics still +900 if anyone wants to add to their entertainment value excitement.
 

HomeRunBaker

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Celtics still +900 if anyone wants to add to their entertainment value excitement.
This to me is beyond absurd. I understand there is the variance of it being a non-7 game series but holy schmoly what value in getting the best team in the league to win a few games in a row.
 

lovegtm

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This to me is beyond absurd. I understand there is the variance of it being a non-7 game series but holy schmoly what value in getting the best team in the league to win a few games in a row.
How does the NCAA tournament usually work out? I wonder whether this is just the necessary pricing for The Field in single-elimination setups.
 

HomeRunBaker

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How does the NCAA tournament usually work out? I wonder whether this is just the necessary pricing for The Field in single-elimination setups.
You don't ever get close to +900 for the overall #1-seed. Much of this is due to the first couple games being cakewalks though.
 

Red Averages

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Should be easily hedgable too given they’ll be 8-12 point favorites in almost any game.
 

InstaFace

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The Celtics court for this is a disgrace.
An article about the new courts just for the tournament games was posted by lovegtm earlier in the week:

There will be special courts for the in-season tournament. Most of them are kind of insane and jarring, and I like it:

https://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/38772965/how-bold-new-nba-season-tournament-courts-came-fruition
If you're gonna break with tradition, might as well lean all the way into it.
 

JerBear

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I know the league drove it and did all the designs and got the courts made, but they should have figured out a way to do the parquet.
 

joe dokes

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I really don't get the whole concept. (that's on me, I suppose).
These games count in the standings, correct? And winning the tournament doesn't get the team anything, does it?
What is the point/purpose?
 

InstaFace

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Doesn't get them anything besides $500k per person and a trophy and the satisfaction of having kicked the rest of the league's asses on a night when the entire nation was watching. Each of which seem to matter to NBA players.
 

Euclis20

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Doesn't get them anything besides $500k per person and a trophy and the satisfaction of having kicked the rest of the league's asses on a night when the entire nation was watching. Each of which seem to matter to NBA players.
Yeah $500k isn't nothing. It's basically just another game check for the game's biggest stars, but just looking at the Celtics, they've got 7 guys making under $2.5M, not counting the 2 way players (dunno if this applies to them). That's real money.
 

lexrageorge

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And the semifinalists get a trip to Vegas, which is cool for the players on those teams. The incentives are not nothing.
 

CoffeeNerdness

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Holy shit this Pacers' court is hideous.

Also, how did the marketing savvy NBA not come up with something, anything more spicy than the In-Season Tournament? The first annual Hakeem Olajuwon Dream Tournament or some such.
 

jmcc5400

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Holy shit this Pacers' court is hideous.

Also, how did the marketing savvy NBA not come up with something, anything more spicy than the In-Season Tournament? The first annual Hakeem Olajuwon Dream Tournament or some such.
Won’t argue with any of that, but the 1q had noticeably more intensity than a normal November game.
 

DeadlySplitter

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Since the finals game doesn't count in the standings, just how much will the deep bench play in that? The NBA will obviously push back, but uh... I wouldn't want Al Horford playing that for example.
 

JCizzle

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Since the finals game doesn't count in the standings, just how much will the deep bench play in that? The NBA will obviously push back, but uh... I wouldn't want Al Horford playing that for example.
Maybe specific to this Celtics team, but Al played 27 minutes over the last two games combined. This team might be able to buy him rest beyond the back-to-backs if they keep playing like this.
 

Time to Mo Vaughn

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What's the best one to watch this? Match madness is one of my favorite times of the year with the staggered starts and mayhem. I only see a game on ESPN though. Is there no TNT/TBS/Court TV type options?
 

SteveF

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Looks more like NY to me. Lots of missed shots and complete ineptitude in transition offense. Bucks still giving up massive amounts of offensive rebounds, which has been one of the main problems. Transition defense was another issue, and they are still allowing transition opportunities even if NY can't seem to cash in.
 

JCizzle

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What's the best one to watch this? Match madness is one of my favorite times of the year with the staggered starts and mayhem. I only see a game on ESPN though. Is there no TNT/TBS/Court TV type options?
Yeah, unfortunately I think you need to watch the matchup of the night or rely on NBA LP (I only have the C's team option, so not much use).
 

OnTheBlack

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The tourney structure is really confusing and it isn’t enough to motivate the big money guys…
What am I missing here? Maybe lower bench guys care but do the fans? Fans caring is what makes a game an event…
 

Mystic Merlin

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I don’t care about the overwrought court designs. Why not? It’s a change of pace and won’t destroy the aura of the parquet floor or anything. I’ll enjoy seeing the Celtics blow teams off a floor that looks like the backdrop to a pinball machine. No matter.
 

Euclis20

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Have you watched Randall try to shoot. NYK have lowest FG percentage in the league season to date.
They're 28th in offensive rating and 29th in ppg. Randle has been beyond terrible (fg% of .276), but Barrett is the only Knick that's really scoring well to start the year.
 

InstaFace

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What's the best one to watch this? Match madness is one of my favorite times of the year with the staggered starts and mayhem. I only see a game on ESPN though. Is there no TNT/TBS/Court TV type options?
There are some TNT games, but not tonight. Tonight it's an ESPN doubleheader and streaming.

If you want some streaming, DM me.
 

DeJesus Built My Hotrod

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I don’t care about the overwrought court designs. Why not? It’s a change of pace and won’t destroy the aura of the parquet floor or anything. I’ll enjoy seeing the Celtics blow teams off a floor that looks like the backdrop to a pinball machine. No matter.
Agreed. I dont understand why the courts are so upsetting aside that they are different. Jaylen will still lose his dribble on the surface regardless of whether it looks like parquet or pinball. </wink emoji>
 

SteveF

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I don't think I can stand watching the Knicks play basketball anymore. JFC my eyes! Someone think of the children!
 

MyDaughterLovesTomGordon

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I don't think I can stand watching the Knicks play basketball anymore. JFC my eyes! Someone think of the children!
Yeah, they're a slog. This game in general is all mucked up. I like Julius Randle, but he's ice cold right now. Without Brunson, Knicks would be helpless.
 

gammoseditor

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I’ve done a 180 on the in-season tournament. I’m all in. I had the thought that we may get an early look at Boston/Denver where both teams care.
 

lars10

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I’ve done a 180 on the in-season tournament. I’m all in. I had the thought that we may get an early look at Boston/Denver where both teams care.
I'm slightly confused about this.. so the group games are regular scheduled games that count for both.. but how does it work after the first round? I know I could google it, but just thinking about it it seems like a scheduling nightmare.
 

Euclis20

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Pacers up 5 with 7 seconds left, Nesmith fouls Mitchell as he goes up for a (meaningless) 3 pointer. Kind of sad to see his bball IQ remains incredibly low, despite the rest of his game evolving.
 

gammoseditor

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I'm slightly confused about this.. so the group games are regular scheduled games that count for both.. but how does it work after the first round? I know I could google it, but just thinking about it it seems like a scheduling nightmare.
From the Wikipedia entry

The remaining teams that don’t make it to the knockout round will play consolation matches against teams that were eliminated in the same round (or record) and in the same conference if possible.