The NBA seems to have another success story with the brand-new NBA In-Season Tournament. [Image: Shutterstock.com]
The big debut Adam Silver’s dream for the NBA In-Season Tournament was to add excitement to early-season games and give fans more to cheer about.
Through three game weeks, he’s passed with flying colors.
fights, suspensions, and some of the best regular-season action in years
Just like the Play-In Tournament was an instant success, the In-Season Tournament seems to be a hit. Teams have only played two or three games in the new competition, yet we’ve seen fights, suspensions, and some of the best regular-season action in years.
With the group stage coming to a close in exactly one week, here are a few early impressions of the NBA’s newest creation.
NBA In-Season Tournament Review Break out the cameras Sports are part of the entertainment business. Everything is—or should—be done for the fans (within reason).
There’s no questioning what In-Season Tournament event drew the most headlines thus far. That distinction belongs to Draymond Green, who was one of three players ejected during a brawl in the second minute of a matchup between the Golden State Warriors and Minnesota Timberwolves.
Green, Golden State’s enforcer, took exception to Rudy Gobert putting his hand on Klay Thompson after a scuffle broke out and took him to the ground in a chokehold. The move landed Green a five-game suspension and added to the growing rivalry between the Dubs and Wolves and the lore of the competition.
Two icons of the game, LeBron James and Kevin Durant, went toe-to-toe when the Phoenix Suns hosted the Los Angeles Lakers on November 10. Durant poured in 38 points and nine rebounds, but it was LeBron’s 32 points, 11 rebounds, and six assists that ended up on the winning side.
sank a three-pointer as he was fouled and ended up converting the four-point play
The Houston Rockets were tied with the Los Angeles Clippers at 100 late in the fourth quarter of their November 17 matchup in LA. With six seconds remaining, James Harden, who had not won a game in a Clippers jersey, sank a three-pointer as he was fouled and ended up converting the four-point play. The Clips stopped a six-game skid and notched a win over a strong Houston squad.
These moments would have been appreciated normally, but they were made even more special by the stakes of the race for the first NBA Cup.
Getting up for games The NBA regular season has decreased in value in recent years amid the rise of load management, player holdouts, and more. Silver was concerned that fans didn’t have a reason to tune into games other than their favorite teams or even until the playoffs.
The finishes of the In-Season Tournament games have been dramatic. Eight of last Friday’s 11 games were decided by 10 or fewer points, and five by six or fewer points.
Average scoring is also down slightly in In-Season Tournament games compared to standard regular-season games, which is a reflection of the extra defensive intensity.
Players have also been open about their desire to win the competition. There was concern that players making massive amounts of money wouldn’t be overly bothered by a $500k prize, but that has been proven untrue by some of the game’s best.
“You got guys on two-way contracts who are trying to earn a stay and that prize in the end could change their family’s lives.”
Damian Lillard on the $500K prize for winning the In-Season Tournament.
— Complex Sports (@ComplexSports) November 16, 2023 As a result, star players are also being asked to play extended minutes during tournament games. Kevin Durant logged 39 minutes in the loss to the Lakers, his second-most in a non-overtime game this season.
Luka Doncic similarly played 38 minutes in a 125-114 loss to the Denver Nuggets, second to a couple of 40-minute games he played when Kyrie Irving was out with an injury.
Jokic is playing 3.1 more minutes per game in In-Season Tournament matchups than he is overall
Meanwhile, Nikola Jokic is playing 3.1 more minutes per game in In-Season Tournament matchups than he is overall. Joel Embiid is also playing 2.9 more minutes per game on these special occasions than he is for the season as a whole.
The bottom line is that stars are on the court longer, which is creating a better product—just what the NBA wanted.
Sports betting and the In-Season Tournament The creation of a new competition within the NBA calendar inevitably led to new betting markets for NBA bettors.
As of Tuesday, Nov. 21, the favorites to win the first In-Season Tournament according to FanDuel Sportsbook are:
Boston Celtics (+390) Milwaukee Bucks (+440) Los Angeles Lakers (+550) Denver Nuggets (+800) Minnesota Timberwolves (+950) requires bettors to take a new direction with their thinking
Betting on the competition is different from standard playoff races and requires bettors to take a new direction with their thinking.
For example, a team might have worse Finals odds than a team they’re ranked ahead of because they have a better chance of making it out of the group stage.
The top three teams on the odds board all lead their groups in points. The Nuggets and Timberwolves are both tied for their group lead in record but are behind on point difference, which will be used as the tiebreaker if multiple teams finish with the same record.
Bettors can still wager on winners for every group until the knockout bracket is finalized.
Odds to win the In-Season Tournament MVP are as follows:
Jayson Tatum (+500) LeBron James (+700) Nikola Jokic (+800) Giannis Anteotkounmpo (+850) Anthony Edwards (+1000)