NBA In-Season Tournament enters knockout stage with doubleheader on TSN
The inaugural In-Season Tournament has entered the knockout stage, and TSN features a doubleheader of enticing matchups as teams vie for the first-ever crown.
Of the six groups - three in each conference - the top team by round-robin record advanced to this stage, with the top remaining team by record and point differential claiming the wild card spot in each conference.
In the East, the Indiana Pacers (4-0) advanced out of Group A, the Milwaukee Bucks (4-0) out of Group B, the Boston Celtics (3-1) out of Group C and the New York Knicks (3-1, +42 point differential) earned the wild-card berth.
You can watch the Celtics take on the Pacers on TSN4/5, TSN.ca and the TSN App on Monday, with coverage beginning at 7pm ET / 4pm PT, followed by the Pelicans battling the Kings on TSN4/5, TSN.ca and the TSN App at 10pm ET / 7pm PT.
Meanwhile in the West, Groups A, B and C were claimed by the Los Angeles Lakers (4-0), New Orleans Pelicans (3-1) and Sacramento Kings (4-0) respectively, with the Phoenix Suns (3-1, +34 differential) advancing as the wild card.
Those eight teams now compete in single-game elimination rounds until the final on Dec. 9 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Aside from the glory of hoisting the first edition of the In-Season Tournament trophy, teams are also competing for escalating money prizes. Each player gets $500,000 for winning the title, $200,000 for making the final, $100,000 for reaching the semifinals and $50,000 for making the quarterfinals.
"I'm sure the richest guy in the world would be happy to get $500,000," said Milwaukee's Khris Middleton, who's making just under $29 million this season. "We're all excited about that opportunity to get some extra cash."
Monday's Eastern Conference game features the top team in the East, the Celtics (15-4), on the road against the Pacers (10-8), who are sixth in the conference. Indiana is led by Tyrese Haliburton and are the highest-scoring team (128.8 points per game_ in the NBA by a significant margin.
“I just want to make every appeal I can to our fans that we need the loudest building possible,” Pacers 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.”
Boston is tied with the Minnesota Timberwolves for best record in the NBA, and will try to contain Indiana’s offence with a defence that ranks fourth (107.4) in points allowed per game.
The night wraps up with the first Western Conference clash, with the Kings (11-7) hosting the Pelicans (11-10).
These two teams met in regular-season play twice in a row in November, with the Pelicans claiming victory in both games.
Pelicans star forward Zion Williamson scored 51 points across their two meetings earlier in the year, and how his physical play matches with the smaller Kings frontcourt in this one will be an important storyline.
New Orleans also welcomed the return of guard CJ McCollum last week after he missed 12 games with a lung problem.