For years there has been talk of the NBA implementing a tournament to make regular season games more significant. Following the agreement between the league and the NBPA, the In-Season NBA Tournament (NBA Cup) will make its debut as early as the 2023-2024 season.
Despite the detractors, the NBA has finally managed to get the players to accept the famous “mid-season tournament“, which is intended to liven up a phase of the Regular Season where viewership starts to decline after the initial hype of the first few weeks.
This is a concept that has been developing in the league office for about 15 years. We thought it was a perfect opportunity for a global league like the NBA, and it fits our game perfectly. New traditions take time. But in the world of sports, we are witnessing new innovations, and now is the right time for this in-season NBA tournamentAdam Silver
What is it, when will it take place, and what are the prizes for the new NBA In-Season Tournament? Here’s everything you need to know about the new mid-season NBA tournament.
What is the NBA In-Season Tournament?
The NBA In-Season Tournament, called the NBA Cup, is a new tournament format that will take place during the Regular Season and will include all 30 teams. Each franchise will play a series of games that will determine the eight teams that advance to the knockout phase, with the Final Four likely to be played on neutral ground in Las Vegas.
The tournament games will count towards the 82 games scheduled for the regular season, and only the two teams that reach the mid-season tournament final will end up playing 83 games.
There will be no pause for the tournament during the season, and when the eight teams advance to the knockout phase, the other 22 NBA teams will continue to play regular-season games.
When is the NBA In-Season Tournament played?
The NBA In-Season Tournament will begin on November 3, 2023, and games will be played every Tuesday and Friday from November 3 to November 28 (with the exception of Election Day on Tuesday, November 7, when no games will be played). The Final Four will take place between December 7 and December 9 in Las Vegas, prior to the NBA Christmas Day.
The group stage matches will be counted as regular-season games, with only the championship game not being considered a regular-season contest. The last two stages of the In-Season Tournament (semifinals and final) will be held at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
The NBA regular season for the 2023-2024 season is expected to start on October 24, 2023, and conclude on April 14, 2024.
NBA In-Season Tournament Groups
As part of the announcement on July 9, 2023, the league also revealed the six groups consisting of five teams each – three composed of Eastern Conference teams and three composed of Western Conference opponents – that will make up the group stage of the tournament.
- Group 1: Philadelphia 76ers, Cleveland Cavaliers, Atlanta Hawks, Indiana Pacers, Detroit Pistons
- Group 2: Milwaukee Bucks, New York Knicks, Miami Heat, Washington Wizards, Charlotte Hornets
- Group 3: Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Toronto Raptors, Chicago Bulls, Orlando Magic
- Group 4: Memphis Grizzlies, Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Lakers, Utah Jazz, Portland Trail Blazers
- Group 5: Denver Nuggets, LA Clippers, New Orleans Pelicans, Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets
- Group 6: Sacramento Kings, Golden State Warriors, Minnesota Timberwolves, Oklahoma City Thunder, San Antonio Spurs
To create the groups, the NBA used a draw process similar to that of the World Cup, dividing each conference into five pots that were separated by last year’s regular-season standings.
Pot 1 featured the teams that finished in first, second, and third place – so, in the East, the Bucks, Celtics, and 76ers; followed by teams ranked 4th to 6th placed in Pot 2 (Cavaliers, Knicks, and Nets); teams ranked 7th to 9th placed in Pot 3 (Hawks, Heat, Raptors); teams ranked 10th to 12th placed in Pot 4 (Bulls, Pacers, and Wizards); and finally, teams ranked 13th to 15th placed in Pot 5 (Magic, Hornets, and Pistons).
Groups Stage Schedule
On August 16, 2023, the NBA unveiled the schedule for its first tournament of the season. The inaugural edition of the In-Season tournament will commence on November 3, 2023.
The opening night of the tournament will feature a doubleheader on ESPN, with the Milwaukee Bucks taking on the New York Knicks, followed by the reigning champions Denver Nuggets facing off against the Dallas Mavericks.
LeBron James and his Los Angeles Lakers will make their debut on November 10th against Kevin Durant’s Phoenix Suns, while Steph Curry and his teammates will play at home against the Thunder on November 3rd.
You can find the full schedule here.
What is the prize for the NBA In-Season Tournament?
Players who are part of the winning team of the NBA In-Season Tournament (NBA Cup) will receive a prize of $500,000 each, while players from the team that loses in the final will take home $200,000 each.
Players from the teams that lose in the semifinals will receive $100,000, while those from the teams eliminated in the quarterfinals will receive $50,000. However, although other incentive measures were discussed to motivate players and teams to invest in the tournament, such as guaranteeing the winner a playoff spot, the league ultimately decided not to implement such measures.
Where to watch the NBA In-Season Tournament?
At the time of writing, it has not been announced by the NBA whether a special streaming/TV package will be created for this new event, but according to many insiders, it will be possible to watch the tournament with an NBA League Pass subscription, ESPN, TNT, YouTube TV.