The NBA’s inaugural In-Season Tournament will begin on Friday. Seven group play games — highlighted by the Golden State Warriors against the Oklahoma City Thunder and New York Knicks against the Milwaukee Bucks — will be played, and tournament play will resume again in a week on Nov. 10 when a grand total of nine games will be played.
After the group play games end on Nov. 28, a select few teams will advance to the knockout rounds (quarterfinals and semifinals) before two teams play each other in a championship game on Dec. 9.
As for incentives, players who make it to the knockout rounds and farther will receive money from a prize pool. The farther a team progresses in the tournament, the more money its players will earn.
But financial incentives for the in-season tournament aren’t limited to only the players. A report indicates that coaches will have financial incentives as well.
“As the NBA pushes to accelerate the competitive environment of the new in-season tournament, the league’s coaches are joining the players in getting paid a financial prize pool for advancing into the final stages of the month-long event, sources told ESPN,” Adrian Wojnarowski wrote.
“The head coach of the tournament’s winning team will be awarded $500,000 — same that already had been designated for the winning team’s players, sources told ESPN.
“Assistant coaches will share an additional pool of money that’ll comprise 75 percent of the winning coach’s total. For head coaches and players now, that prize pool will descend based on advancing to become the tournament runner-up ($200,000), a semifinalist ($100,000) and a quarterfinalist ($50,000), sources said.”
The former is in arguably the least-talented group of five teams out of the six groups in the NBA, as the Eastern Conference’s group C includes the Brooklyn Nets, Toronto Raptors, Chicago Bulls and Orlando Magic along with the Celtics. Aside from the Celtics, only the Nets made the playoffs a season ago, and they were swept by the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round.
Additionally, the Nuggets are fresh off winning the 2023 NBA title and are playing great basketball to start the season. The team owns a 4-1 record, which is tied with the Warriors and New Orleans Pelicans for the second-best record in the Western Conference.
Big man Nikola Jokic has picked up where he left off after last season’s historic playoff run. In five games played with the Nuggets, he’s averaging 26.2 points, 11.8 rebounds and 7.4 assists per game.
There’s a lot of basketball left to be played before fans find out who wins the In-Season Tournament. But the Celtics and Nuggets both have a great chance to put together a deep run.