NBA's Inaugural In-Season Tournament Begins Tonight
The Pacers are in East Group A with four other teams. It all begins Friday at home vs the Cavs. Plus, what about Bally Sports, the start of a homestand and Oshae Brissett discusses moving on.
The NBA’s brand new in-season tournament tips off Friday in team markets and will run through the championship game, held at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Sunday, Dec. 9 at 8:30 pm. ET (and air on ABC).
WHO: The 30 teams were separated by conference and divided into six groups of five.
The Pacers are in East Group A — along with the Hawks, Cavaliers, Pistons and 76ers.
WHAT: An in-season tournament (67 games in total) was added to the schedule this season. All teams will play six games with tournament designation that also count toward their regular-season record. This is not separate. The two teams that meet in the championship will play an extra game (so 83 games total this season).
There are two stages, Group Play and then the Knockout Rounds. The first involves every team and then only eight teams — four per conference — advance to single-elimination games. Players on the eight teams that advance all receive bonuses — ranging from $50,000 each to $500,000.
And the winning team will capture the NBA Cup.
Tiebreakers to advance:
Head-to-head in Group Play (if both teams are in the same group
Record from the 2022-23 season
WHEN: Group Play begins on Nov. 3 and games on every Tuesday and Friday through November, with the exception of Election Day, count for it. Again, raising the stakes on tournament nights. And all 30 teams have distinctive courts used only for tournament games, along with their City Edition uniforms.
Here are the Pacers’ four Group Play games:
Friday, Nov. 3 v Cavaliers, 7:00 p.m. ET
Tuesday, Nov. 14 at 76ers, 7:00 p.m.
Tuesday, Nov. 21 at Hawks, 7:30 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 24 v Pistons, 8:00 p.m.
All Knockout Round games will air on national TV.
WHERE: Teams will play four games Group Play games, two at home and two on the road. The 22 teams that do not advance will play two more games (one at home and one away) on Dec. 6 and Dec. 8.
WHY: This is a new concept for the NBA, championed by commissioner Adam Silver and modeled off of soccer overseas. The general purpose: 1) to elevate the stakes and competitiveness of early-season games and 2) to have another championship that can be celebrated. Anymore, it feels like championship or bust for NBA teams and this is one way to help correct that.
The NFL dominates TV viewing this time of year, but this tournament adds more intrigue to the games. That’s the hope.
WHAT I WONDER: There’s extra incentive for the players in the form of a prize pool, but what about the teams and fans? Yes, winning the NBA Cup will be nice — but it’s no Larry O’Brien trophy. Perhaps in future seasons, the NBA could add something else to the prize pool.
A guaranteed playoff spot? An extra first-round pick?
Fans hope the games are more competitive because of it, but they aren’t getting money from the prize pool. But extra incentive — just not too much — will be worthwhile.
What About Bally Sports?
I hear you, Pacers fans.
Your biggest concern isn’t the team right now, it’s about actually being able to watch games on Bally Sports Indiana. Kind of important, I get it. The network has had country-wide outages over the last week, including Thursday night.
I reached out to the network on Tuesday after issues appeared during the Pacers’ loss to the Bulls on Monday, but I never heard back. My guess is they were overwhelmed — in media requests, on the technical side and in the executive offices about how to proceed.
I checked in again Thursday and heard back this time.
They believe the issue was resolved at approximately 9:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday but continue to monitor live game feeds across all devices. The issue, which appears to be with a third-party vendor, notably popped up again late Thursday.
That led to them tweeting this message: “We have been notified there is a streaming issue with the app. The operations team is working to resolve this as quickly as we can to get you back in the game. We will update you when service has been restored.”
For viewers still having trouble streaming, the network wants you to reach out to customer service right here. And more, I’m told they plan to issue credits to subscribers that have been highly affected.
“Agree unacceptable,” Pacers owner Steve Simon wrote in a reply on Twitter concerning Bally Sports’ problems.
So yes, everyone is aware. And just as frustrated. The team renewed its deal with the network before last season.
Here’s what Adam Silver said in February at All-Star Weekend.
Long-term, I’m not that concerned because there are many other ways, platforms, including local over-the-air television, streaming services and other methods to bring those games linear and digitally directly to fans.
In the mid-term, it’s an issue we’re gonna have to work through. We’ve been in extensive discussions with Diamond (Sports Group) about a potential restructuring and I’m fairly optimistic we’ll be able to work something out with them. But, if we can’t, we will make sure we have a system in place for delivering those games to fans.
For fans who don’t subscribe to a traditional cable bundle or have a streaming service like YouTube TV, you don’t get Bally Sports Indiana. But since last year, there is the option of subscribing directly with Bally Sports+. That costs $19.99 per month or $189.99 for a year and for that price, they must deliver.
And you can be sure the rest of the league is watching how the Suns and Jazz are working with their local TV experiment.
Have any more questions? Let me know.
Start of Five-Game Homestand
More than the tournament, the Pacers are looking to get back on track.
They’ve dropped their last two games, including a 51-point beatdown in Boston on Wednesday. They allowed 155 points, the second-most in franchise history, as the Celtics shot 57% from the arc (20 of 35).
Tyrese Haliburton (right ankle sprain) and Jalen Smith (left knee sprain) are both listed as questionable for Friday after missing the last game. Bennedict Mathurin is no longer on the injury report, which is a positive sign.