Quarterfinals Set For NBA’s Inaugural In-Season Tournament

The last set of round robin games for the NBA’s first-ever in-season tournament took place on Tuesday night, and the eight quarterfinalists are now known.

In the Eastern Conference, the Bucks and Celtics joined the Pacers as group winners, while the Knicks claimed the wild card spot.

With a road victory over Miami on Tuesday, Milwaukee secured a 4-0 record in group play, and the Bucks’ +46 point differential was better than Indiana’s +39 mark, making them the No. 1 seed in the conference, with the Pacers coming in at No. 2.

A 124-97 victory over Chicago ensured that the Celtics finished group play with a 3-1 record and a +27 point differential. Orlando and Brooklyn also won three games in East Group C, but their respective point differentials (+22 and +20) weren’t quite good enough to match Boston’s.

The Magic and Nets were still in play for the wild card spot, but the Knicks’ 115-91 win over Charlotte on Tuesday increased their overall point differential to +42, giving them the edge over their fellow 3-1 Eastern clubs, including Cleveland.

Over in the Western Conference, the Lakers – who previously won their group – clinched the No. 1 seed based on Tuesday’s results. They’ll be joined in the quarterfinals by the 4-0 Kings and the 3-1 Pelicans and Suns.

The only other Western team to go undefeated in round robin games, Sacramento secured its spot with an impressive comeback win over Golden State, 124-123. The Kings’ overall point differential of +30 wasn’t anywhere close to the Lakers’ mark of +74, so Sacramento will enter the quarterfinals as the West’s No. 2 seed.

Because Houston fell to Dallas on Tuesday, the Pelicans finished as the only 3-1 team in Group B, clinching the West’s No. 3 seed.

The Suns, like New Orleans, were off on Tuesday, but benefited from the results of the action. Although the Timberwolves defeated Oklahoma City and matched Phoenix’s 3-1 record, Minnesota finished with a +0 point differential, far off the +34 mark posted by the Suns, who will be the West’s wild card team.

Here’s the quarterfinal schedule, per the NBA (Twitter link):

Monday, December 4:

  • Boston Celtics at Indiana Pacers (7:30 pm Eastern)
  • New Orleans Pelicans at Sacramento Kings (10:00 pm ET)

Tuesday, December 5:

  • New York Knicks at Milwaukee Bucks (7:30 pm ET)
  • Phoenix Suns at Los Angeles Lakers (10:00 pm ET)

The winners of those games will face one another in the semifinals on Dec. 7 in Las Vegas, with the finalists squaring off on Dec. 9. The quarterfinals and semifinals will count toward each club’s regular season record, but the final won’t.

The eight teams that have qualified as quarterfinalists have already earned bonuses worth $50K apiece for each of their players. Advancing to the semifinals would increase those bonuses to $100K per player, while making the final would bump the figure to $200K. The inaugural in-season tournament champion will receive bonuses of $500K per player.

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