The New Orleans Pelicans now know exactly how their NBA In-Season Tournament schedule will be structured.
The full schedule for the NBA’s first-ever In-Season Tournament has been released. The league is rolling out the new competition enhancement idea this season, with the Final Four meeting in Las Vegas to play for a trophy and a share of $1 million. It’s not a full-on divisional bracket either and will be played with a group and elimination round (kind of like the Soccer World Cup).
The New Orleans Pelicans, who will not play on opening night or Christmas Day, didn’t get many favors from the schedule makers. They will not have a nationally televised In-Season Tournament game. These in-season games with extra meaning start on November 3rd, and the semifinals and finals will be on December 7th and 9th, respectively. The championship game will not count toward a team’s regular season standings.
The Pelicans are in a pod with the Los Angeles Clippers, Denver Nuggets, Houston Rockets, and Dallas Mavericks. They’ll play against the Mavericks (November 14th) and Nuggets (November 17th) at home; and the Rockets (November 10th) and the Clippers (November 24th) on the road. It is widely assumed the Pelicans will also visit the Los Angeles Lakers and Sacramento Kings on a road trip around Thanksgiving.
The so-called “Tournament Nights” will take place every Tuesday and Friday from November 3-28, with the exception of Election Day on Tuesday, November 7, when no games will be played. The only NBA games played on Tournament Nights will be Group Play games.
After Group Play is done, eight teams will advance to the Knockout Rounds: the team with the best standing in Group Play games in each of the six groups and two “wild cards” (the team from each conference with the best record in Group Play games that finished second in its group).
The Knockout Round will be single-elimination games played in NBA team markets on December 4th and 5th, followed by the Las Vegas-based Semifinals and Championship. Each of the 22 teams that do not advance to the Quarterfinals of the In-Season Tournament will be assigned two regular-season games (one home game and one away game) that will be played on Wednesday, December 6th, and Friday, December 8th.
More details about the NBA’s In-Season Tournament format and rules can be found on NBA.com’s In-Season Tournament page.