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What is the format of the NBA In-Season Tournament?

Let’s go over the format here.

Washington Wizards v Atlanta Hawks Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images

Today, the Washington Wizards play the Miami Heat in a two-for-one deal. First, the Wizards are playing the Heat in a regular season game. And second, it’s the first game of the 2023-24 NBA In-Season Tournament. Let’s answer some questions about the tournament specifically.

Why is the In-Season Tournament here?

In short, it’s because the regular season has at times, been sort-of written off by contending NBA teams. Star players will take advantage of “load management,” and some teams “coast” and hope everything is fine during the NBA Playoffs. This tournament will make the regular season count a little more than it did before.

What is the tournament modeled after?

It is modeled after the WNBA Commissioner’s Cup, where a team’s first set of intraconference games counted in the standings for that competition. In the WNBA, the top team in the Eastern and Western Conference in these standings will face off in the championship for the trophy and some extra money. The NBA’s tournament will be similar. But because there are 30 NBA teams, not 12 like the WNBA, there are also knockout rounds before the championship.

How is the tournament going to work out specifically?

All teams were separated by conference, and then placed in a pot (1-5) depending on where they ranked last season in the regular season standings. Teams are then placed in a five team group, with one team from each pot. Each team plays the other teams in the group once.

How is the elimination round done?

There are eight teams in the quarterfinals. Six will be the winners of each group. Two will be the top-two runners up in each group. The quarterfinals are on Dec. 4 and 5 at team arenas. The semifinals and finals are at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The semis are on Dec. 7 and the championship is on Dec. 9.

Players on teams in the elimination rounds will earn bonus money.