Bracket, Schedule Ahead of Knockout Round

The bracket for the knockout round of the NBA’s inaugural In-Season Tournament is locked in.

Group play for the league’s newest scheduling feature concluded on Tuesday night. So a 30-team field has been cut to eight remaining squads for the single-elimination knockout round, which will begin early next week with the tournament’s quarterfinals.

The Los Angeles Lakers, Sacramento Kings and New Orleans Pelicans won their respective groups in the Western Conference, while the Phoenix Suns earned a Wild Card berth. In the East, the Milwaukee Bucks, Indiana Pacers and Boston Celtics finished atop their groups and the New York Knicks clinched the final spot. The NBA also announced an updated schedule for the 22 teams that didn’t advance to the knockout round to ensure they still play 82 regular season games.

Commissioner Adam Silver’s addition of the tournament this year was meant to provide some extra intrigue during a usually slow start to the season. And now the NBA has elimination games in December, with plenty at stake for those involved.

Here’s what else fans should know ahead of the quarterfinals.

Kevin Durant, #35 of the Phoenix Suns, and LeBron James, #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers, hug after the Lakers defeated the Suns, 100-95, on October 26, 2023, in Los Angeles, California. The Lakers and Suns square off in the NBA In-Season Tournament quarterfinals.
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images/Getty Images

Tournament Quarterfinal Matchups, Schedule

The tournament’s quarterfinals begin Monday. Seeds were determined by, among other factors, group-play records and point differential in those games. All four matchups will be played in the home arena of the higher-seeded team—so look out for the new courts each team debuted for the tournament. The quarterfinal matchups will be played over a two-day period.

Monday, December 4

Eastern Conference quarterfinal: Celtics at Pacers, 7:30 p.m. ET, TNT

Western Conference quarterfinal: Pelicans at Kings, 10 p.m. ET, TNT

Tuesday, December 5

Eastern Conference quarterfinals: Knicks at Bucks, 7:30 p.m. ET, TNT

Western Conference quarterfinals: Suns at Lakers, 10 p.m. ET, TNT

The quarterfinal winners will advance to the semifinals, which will be played in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Thursday, December 7, against the other remaining team in their conference. The championship game will be held on Saturday, December 9, also at T-Mobile Arena in Vegas.

The title game will not count toward the league’s regular-season standings.

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NBA In-Season Tournament Bracket

The Lakers and Bucks finished as the top seeds in their respective conferences after group play.

Los Angeles, winners of West Group A, finished group play 4-0 and with the best point differential in the league (+74). That propelled the Lakers above the second-seeded Kings (4-0) and No. 3 seed Pelicans (3-1). What do LeBron James and the Lakers get as a reward? A meeting with Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and the Wild Card Suns (3-1).

Milwaukee mounted a late comeback to beat the Miami Heat on Tuesday night to reach the knockout round unblemished. That, along with a +46 point differential, elevated the Bucks above the other East teams that advanced—the No. 2 seed Pacers (4-0), No. 3 seed Celtics (3-1) and Wild Card Knicks (3-1).

None of the top three teams in the overall Western Conference standings—the Minnesota Timberwolves, Denver Nuggets and Dallas Mavericks—advanced to the knockout stage of the tournament. Two of the top five teams in the East—the Orlando Magic and Philadelphia 76ers—also didn’t make the bracket.

In-Season Tournament Stakes Explained

The In-Season Tournament champion will become the first team to hoist the NBA Cup. But there’s also a financial incentive for players to stay alive in the bracket.

Each player on the championship-winning team will earn $500,000 in prize money. Players on the losing finals team will receive $200,000, while players on the losing semifinals and quarterfinals teams will net $100,000 and $50,000, respectively. After the final game, the league will also name a tournament MVP and All-Tournament team based on performance in both the group and knockout stages.