The NBA In-Season Tournament Knockout Round preview
The GIST: The Knockout Round of the NBA’s inaugural In-Season Tournament begins tonight with four quarter-final games over the next 48 hours, a semis double-header on Thursday, and a first-time champion crowned in Las Vegas this Saturday. It’s a sprint, not a marathon.
How it works: After a group play round featuring all 30 teams, it’s win-or-go-home for the eight remaining squads still fighting for the $500K first-place check. Much like the NBA Playoffs, the Knockout Round follows a Western and Eastern Conference divide: the first seed in each conference plays the No. 4 seed while the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds follow suit in search of semis berths.
- And guess what? With bold courts, specialty uniforms, and a divisive point-differential in play, the league’s attention-seeking experiment is actually working, resulting in a 19% increase in average viewership, compared to this time last year. Not too shabby.
Quarter-final preview: Tonight’s 7:30 p.m. ET showdown between the No. 2 seed Indiana Pacers and the No. 3 seed Boston Celtics is a must-watch. While the Celtics made light work of the Pacers earlier this regular season, Indiana blazed through group play, going undefeated.
- And save some popcorn for tomorrow’s 10 p.m. ET No. 1 seed LA Lakers vs. No. 4 seed Phoenix Suns battle royale, especially with Suns star Devin Booker set to make his first appearance against the Lakers this season.