LAS VEGAS — The NBA has a new trophy to play for and some cash bonuses for teams that make it to the knockout round.
Saturday’s unveiling of long-awaited plans for the seasonal tournament set to begin in November likely raised some questions, as it’s a new concept and will make the schedule a bit confusing when the game list for the 2023-24 slate is finalized. releases later this summer.
The 30 teams will participate. And every game will count in the stats and standings, except for the championship game in Las Vegas on December 9.
HOW DOES THIS WORK?
First, let’s start with the easy answer. Every game counts in the regular season standings, except for the championship game. (More on that later.)
The teams will play four group stage matches. The group winners advance to the quarterfinals, as do two wild card teams. The quarterfinals, semifinals, and final are all single-elimination.
HOW WERE THE GROUPS CHOSEN?
The teams were assigned to a pool of five teams, with last season’s regular season finish order establishing the pods from which they were selected. The teams that finished first, second, and third in each conference were in one pod; the teams that finished in places 4-6 were in another; points 7-9 in another; points 10-12 in another and points 13-15 in the last one.
The winner of each group advances to the quarterfinals, along with the two best second places. Tiebreakers will likely come into play there. For intra-group tiebreakers, head-to-head comes first. If there is a tie for best second place in all groups, the tiebreakers are:
— Difference in points in the Group Phase;
— Total points scored in the group stage;
— 2022-23 regular season record.
— Random drawing.
WHAT IS AT STAKE?
Well, all games count, so the results will obviously factor into who makes it to the “real” playoffs that start in April.
Other than that, the teams will play for the NBA Cup, the new trophy, and extra money for the quarterfinalists, semifinalists, runners-up, and champions. Players can get up to $500,000; For some guys in the league, that’s game control, but for many players, it’s still a significant amount of money.
EVERYONE STILL PLAYING 82 GAMES?
This is a trick question. The answer is yes, something like that.
The teams will get an 80-game schedule (including the four group stage games) in the coming weeks. Teams that do not make the season tournament playoffs will play two games (filling the remaining two games in their 82-game schedule) against other teams not in the knockout phase on December 6 and 8.
For the quarterfinalists, that game becomes the 81st on their calendar. The quarterfinal losers will play the other quarterfinal loser from their conference, ranking 82nd on their schedule.
The semifinalists will have 82 game slots occupied by the quarterfinals and semifinals. Semifinal losers will not play any extra games; They will already be at 82.
This leaves both teams bound for the championship. That December 9 game in Las Vegas will end up as one of 83 games on their schedules, which is why it won’t count in their records or for statistical purposes.
Regular season play resumes on December 11.
WILL ALL THE TEAMS KEEP PLAYING 41 HOME GAMES?
No. Some teams will play 40 home or away games instead of the usual 41, and some teams could also meet at home or away 42 times.
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