Over the weekend, the NBA confirmed details about its new In-Season Tournament. Some details, like the final game taking place in Las Vegas, were leaked earlier in the week.
The new annual in-season competition will be an annual event that includes all 30 teams. This new tournament isn’t an original idea. It’s similar to European soccer teams playing in the Champions League during the middle of their respective seasons.
The In-Season Tournament will begin on Friday, Nov. 3 with games taking place in NBA team markets.
The semifinals and championship game will take place at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Thursday, Dec. 7 and Saturday, Dec. 9, respectively. Joe Dumars, NBA Executive Vice President, Head of Basketball Operations said on the NBA website:
“We are excited to introduce the NBA In-Season Tournament as an opportunity to further enhance and innovate around our season structure. With the addition of this new marquee event on the NBA calendar, we are focused on providing players and teams with another competition to win, engaging fans in a different way and driving further interest in the early portion of the regular-season schedule.”
The NBA In-Season Tournament will consist of 67 regular-season games played in arenas around the country. The winning team members will each take home $500,000 in cash. The team will receive the NBA Cup.
The total prize pool for players is approximately $18 million. Players losing in earlier rounds will receive between $50,000 and $200,000.
The number of games during the season won’t change. Each team will play 82 regular-season games in the 2023-24 season.
Structure of the new NBA In-Season Tournament
The In-Season Tournament will begin with Group Play before moving to the Knockout Round and eventually the championship game in Las Vegas.
Group Play (Nov. 3-28)
The NBA hasn’t announced the 2023-2024 schedule yet. It’s being put together now but we already have an idea of when some teams will be playing thanks to the Matchup Matrix for the In-Season Tournament.
Group Play will include all 30 teams. The teams have already been randomly placed into groups of five within their conference based on win-loss records from the 2022-23 regular season.
Each team will play four designated Group Play games. Each team will be one game against the opponents in its group.
There will be a total of two home games and two on the road. These games will take place every Tuesday and Friday from Nov. 3-28 (except for election day Nov. 7).
Eight teams from Group Play will advance to the Knockout Rounds. The participants in this round will include the team with the best standing in Group Play games in each of the six groups.
There will also be two wild card teams. These will be the team from each conference with the best record in Group Play games that finished second in its group.
The Knockout Rounds will be single-elimination games that are essentially the Quarterfinals of the In-Season Tournament. These games will be played in NBA team markets on Monday, Dec. 4, and Tuesday, Dec. 5.
Semifinals and finals in Las Vegas
The winners of the Quarterfinal games will move on to play the Semifinals and Championship games at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Dec. 7 and Dec. 9, respectively.
These dates aren’t perfect for those who would like to travel to Las Vegas to see their favorite team play during the last two rounds of the In-Season Tournament.
About a decade ago, December was considered a slow time in Las Vegas. Cheap hotel rooms and reservations available at all of the best restaurants were the norm. That’s not the case anymore.
Las Vegas in early December
Those visiting Las Vegas for the NBA In-Season Tournament will see cowboys and cowgirls at every turn.
This will be the 37th year the National Finals Rodeo (NFR) takes place in Las Vegas. The event at the Thomas & Mack Center will take place for 10 days from Dec. 7 – 16.
The event has grown in popularity over the years and it sells out most nights. However, that’s just part of the effect of NFR in Las Vegas.
Entertainment venues throughout Las Vegas cater to those visiting for the NFR with country music events in just about every casino. There are already major country music residency dates on the schedule during this NBA event:
- Garth Brooks at Caesars Palace
- Carrie Underwood at Resorts World Las Vegas
- Miranda Lambert at Planet Hollywood
Additionally, the much anticipated U2 residency will take place at the Sphere while the NBA games are in Las Vegas. The In-Season tournament will miss the Raiders’ home game versus the Minnesota Vikings by one day.
Of course, there will be thousands of Vikings fans in Las Vegas since about half the seats for Raiders games will likely be occupied by visiting team fans.
Visitors shouldn’t be surprised when they run into higher than the normal hotel room rates. Similarly, visitors should expect some of the most popular restaurants to be booked before they know if their favorite NBA team is participating in the Semi-Final or Final of the NBA In-Season Tournament.
Look for better scheduling for the 2024 NBA In-Season Tournament if games return to Las Vegas.