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At the end of June, just before the start of Free Agency, NBA officially confirmed the launch of this new concept called an In-Season Tournament. After polishing some details and making arrangements regarding venues the officials finally held the In-Season Tournament draw and now we know who’s facing who in the 6 pools of 5 teams. Below, we break down for you everything you need to know about the tournament. We also give you our predictions for which team we think will win each of the 6 pools.
When the new NBA In-Season Tournaments start and when it finishes?
The new NBA In-Season Tournament will start on November 03rd, 2023 with the group stage. The 5 teams in each of the 6 pools will play 2 home and 2 away games during November to determine the pool winners. Then at the beginning of December, the first round of the knockouts will see the teams with better records given home advantage.
The semifinals and the final of the first-ever In-Season Tournament will be played at a neutral venue in Las Vegas between 05th and 09th of December 2023. The final is scheduled for 09th and this is the day in which we will find out our first In-Season Tournament champions.
Who ended up with who after the NBA In-Season Tournament draw?
The 30 NBA teams were split into 6 pools with 5 teams in each. The split was again made on the standard East/West divide and the 6 pools were named East A, B, C and West A, B, C. Here is who’s with who in their respective pools:
New York Knicks
Portland Trail Blazers
New Orleans Pelicans
Golden State Warriors
San Antonio Spurs
Oklahoma City Thunder
Our predictions for winners of the 6 pools
We now give you our take on who we think is likeliest to win each of the 6 groups and progress to the knockout stage. The In-Season Tournament draw certainly put some old and new foes against each other and we expect many tight matches as all 30 NBA franchises will want the honours to be known forever as the first-ever In-Season Tournament champions. Here’s who we think has the edge in each of the pools:
In theory, the 76ers should be the favourites. However, with James Harden wanting out we’re not so sure that the Sixers will find it easy in this group. We certainly, think both the Cavs and the Hawks will put up a good fight and we fancy the Cleveland Cavaliers to win this pool.
With a chip on their shoulder, we believe the Milwaukee Bucks will top this group. Apart from the Knicks, we don’t see any of the other teams providing much of a resistance. Even the 2023 NBA Finalists the Miami Heat don’t take our fancy. However, this all could change if the Heat find a way to bring Dame Lillard over from Portland.
In our opinion, this is the easiest of all 6 pools and Boston Celtics won’t have any problems winning it. All other 4 teams in this group are in a rebuild mode so the Celtics should find it easy
The Grizzlies will be missing the suspended Ja Morant, so we don’t fancy their chances much. The Lakers are likely to still be resting their stars LeBron James and AD so early in the season. At the same time, the Suns built a frighting roster and as they have a point to prove we back Phoenix to emerge as winners of this group.
In our opinion, this will be the most unpredictable group. The defending champions Denver Nuggets are the favourites. However, an improved Mavericks team and healthy Clippers and Pelicans rosters could provide stiff competition. We honestly think that any of these 4 teams could win this pool.
The last group is also interesting. The new NBA superstar Victor Wembanyama and his Spurs will fancy their chances. The Thunder are another young team with ambitions. However, we think it will come down to whoever wins the direct clash between the Kings and the Warriors will also top the group. Sacramento and Golden State played a thrilling 7-game series during the last playoffs.
Now we know all this we’re ready to enjoy the first-ever In-Season Tournament and have fun along the way. We’ll see you in Vegas on December 09th!
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