The start of the inaugural NBA in-season tournament produced some thrilling moments and great games in group play. The tournament is now ready to move on to its second phase, with the six group winners and two wildcard teams from each conference advancing to the quarterfinals. It all culminates with the NBA crowning its first in-season tournament winner on Dec. 9 in Las Vegas.
The Los Angeles Lakers, Sacramento Kings, and New Orleans Pelicans were the group winners in the West, and will be seeded in that order. The Phoenix Suns qualified as the wildcard team as the best team that didn’t win their group, with the tiebreaker being total point-differential. In the East, the Milwaukee Bucks, Indiana Pacers, and Boston Celtics were the group winners, with the New York Knicks grabbing the wildcard spot.
The group play phase to open the in-season tournament was a bit difficult to follow while sandwiched into the regular season, but now the eight teams remaining are slotted into a single-elimination bracket until there’s a winner. The knockout rounds are going to be so much fun. We’ll be keeping track of every result in this post.
NBA in-season tournament bracket
NBA in-season tournament games, schedule, and results
All times are Eastern. The semifinals and finals will be hosted in Las Vegas.
Monday, Dec. 4
Boston Celtics vs. Indiana Pacers, 7:30 p.m., TNT
New Orleans Pelicans vs. Sacramento Kings, 10 p.m., TNT
Tuesday, Dec. 5
New York Knicks vs. Milwaukee Bucks, 7:30 p.m., TNT
Phoenix Suns vs. Los Angeles Lakers, 10 p.m., TNT
Thursday, Dec. 7
TBD vs. TBD, 5 p.m., ESPN
TBD vs. TBD, 9 p.m., TNT
Saturday, Dec. 9
TBD vs. TBD, 8:30 p.m., ABC
Does NBA in-season tournament count in standings?
From the NBA’s official website:
“All 67 games across both stages of the In-Season Tournament will count toward the regular-season standings except the Championship.”
NBA in-season tournament predictions
Let’s start with the West. The Suns are already 2-0 against the Lakers this year, and as the old saying goes, it’s hard to beat a good team three times. I’m just not sure the Lakers are actually a good team. Give me Phoenix to advance to the semifinals, with Devin Booker and Kevin Durant leading the way. I’ll also take Kings over Pelicans. Sacramento’s offense is electric with De’Aaron Fox at the controls, and with New Orleans just starting to get some injured players back, it feels like the Kings are the team that already has their identity ingrained and their chemistry in place.
In the East, it pains me to say I’ll take the Celtics over the Pacers. The Pacers are the most entertaining team in the league as they put up what is currently the best offensive rating in league history behind Tyrese Haliburton, but with the superstar point guard missing Indiana’s most recent game with an illness, his availability is still in question. The Pacers’ defense just can’t be trusted either way. I’ll take the Bucks over the Knicks in the other East game.
Mark me down for Kings over Suns, and Celtics over Bucks. I’ll take Kings over Celtics for the championship.