While most of the league has gotten back to business as usual, the eight teams that advanced in the NBA’s first-ever in-season tournament are focused on the knockout round and a trip to Las Vegas for the semifinals and title game, writes Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. Single-elimination games will start Monday with the Pacers hosting the Celtics and the Pelicans meeting the Kings, and will continue Tuesday with Knicks-Bucks and Lakers-Suns matchups.
“I just want to make every appeal I can to our fans that we need the loudest building possible,” Indiana coach Rick Carlisle said. “To show you that no good deed goes unpunished, we draw the team with the best record in basketball. But we do get to play them at home. So that’s something important. We need our building to be as loud and raucous as it possibly can and we need to throw a game out there that’s exceptional.”
The new tournament falls at a perfect time on the NBA calendar, notes Sam Amick of The Athletic. It brings added stakes to numerous early-season games and ends six days before December 15, which marks the unofficial start of trading season as most free agents who signed during the summer become eligible to be dealt. Ten days later marks the Christmas Day showcase, which Amick points out is when much of the general public typically starts paying attention to the league.
There’s more from around the basketball world:
- The NBA may have to address the point-differential issue before next year’s tourney, Amick adds in the same piece. Having it as the primary tie-breaker led to unusual strategy in several late-game situations on Tuesday, and Knicks guard Josh Hart said it “messes with the integrity of the game a little bit.” Warriors coach Steve Kerr, whose team needed a 13-point win at Sacramento to reach the final eight, talked with reporters before the game about a scenario where it might be advantageous to let the Kings force overtime and try to dominate the extra session. He also made it clear that he wouldn’t pursue that strategy. “I’ll let (commissioner) Adam Silver answer,” Kerr said. “He gets to decide what we should do. I don’t know. It’s a very interesting question.”
- The Athletic’s NBA staff examines the most pressing concerns for all 30 teams, from the top of the league, where the Celtics have to be worried about frontcourt depth in light of Kristaps Porzingis‘ injury history, to the bottom, where the Pistons might be forced into upending their roster sooner than expected.
- Veteran guard Norris Cole has joined the G League Ignite, tweets Marc J. Spears of Andscape. Cole, 35, won two titles with the Heat but has been out of the NBA since 2017.