The In-Season Tournament format makes its first debut this season, making big headlines. The new tournament consists of two game stages: group play and knockout rounds. For the group play, the 30 teams will be randomly divided into five groups in their conference and will play four matches (two on the road and another at home.)
After the group play, the best-standing team will play for the single-elimination games of the knockouts. Every player on the team that wins the championship game of the In-Season tournament receives $500,000 each, so the stakes are high. With this new format, every game will be an intense battle on the court as teams vie for the top spots. To keep you in the loop, here are some of the current results from the on-going In-Season Tournament:
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Phoenix Suns Earn Their Victory
The Phoenix Suns showed their potential as a group as they secured back-to-back wins against the Utah Jazz. On November 18, the Phoenix Suns left the court with a clutch group win with a 131-128 score.
During their games against the Jazz, the team knew exactly how to execute a perfect group play as multiple players displayed monster performances. On November 18, Kevin Durant led the team with deep threes in only under a minute left on the clock. Moreover, Durant closed the game with 38 points, nine assists, and nine rebounds.
The Phoenix Suns odds only went higher from there, as partner-in-crime Devin Booker also had his fair assists during the game. Although he recently dealt with leg injuries, he returned stronger with 24 points, 15 assists, and four rebounds.
Los Angeles Clippers over the Houston Rockets
Paul George scored 28 points, Ivica Zubac paired it with a dunk in the final minute, and the Los Angeles Clippers won on November 18. Additionally, James Harden landed a tie-breaking three-pointer shot with six seconds left, giving the Clippers a 106 to 100 victory over the Houston Rockets.
Against the Rockets, Kawhi Leonard adds 26 points to the scoreboard. Likewise, the Clippers’ starting roster tried to balance their rotation with Russell Westbrook, who scored eight points in 17 minutes from the bench.
New York Knicks Reign Victorious
The New York Knicks are merciless as they eliminated the Washington Wizards from the In-Season games with their 120-99 win last November 18. Here, the Wizards tried offensive tactic after tactic, and yet the Knicks had a response every time.
Julius Randle went for 22 points, Immanuel Quickley had27 points, and Jalen Brunson finished with 32 points. The Knicks went on to play hard-nosed basketball, wearing the Washington Wizards down throughout the game.
Moreover, New York Knicks’ coach Tom Thibodeau said he loved winning – regardless of whether it was in or out of season. On the court, what matters most is trying to keep the score and win the game. With this, the Wizards were sent to their fifth defeat, while the New York Knicks went on to win their own five.
Denver Nuggets Drop In-Season Match
The New Orleans Pelicans beat the Denver Nuggets last November 18. With 6:50 in the third quarter, the Denver Nuggets tried to bring the score to a tie with consecutive three-pointers from Christian Braun, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Nikola Jokic. Although they got close, the Pelicans proved to be too much.
New Orleans Pelicans’ stars Brandom Ingram and Zion Williamson scored and maintained a 20-point lead, stopping Nikola Jokic and the rest of the Nuggets in the game’s final minutes. Williamson went on to score 26 points, while Ingram scored 21. This was also topped with Jonas Valanciunas’ 22-point game and Ingram’s consecutive threes, securing the Pelicans their win.
With a loss from the Pelicans, the Nuggets hope of winning the In-season tournament is getting smaller.Moreover, the Nuggets no longer have control of the group plays, especially with one game remaining in the In-Season matches.
LeBron, Running for In-Season MVP
It’s always win after win for the Lakers, and there’s no denying that LeBron James sits at the top. Likewise, LeBron continues with a stellar record as he is currently in the running as the In-Season MVP. So far, he has averaged 27.7 points, 7 assists, and 8 rebounds – and that’s just in three group plays.
With his skills, it’s no wonder the Lakers sit at the top of West Group A, earning a great position to reach the knockout rounds. In the game against the Portland Trail Blazers, LeBron James scored 35 season-high points, earning the Lakers a 107 to 95 win.
The addition of the In-Season format has only made the games more interesting, and even more so when the knockout rounds start. Make no mistake, every game(except for the championship game) in the In-Season tournament counts as regular NBA games which go to the standings for playoff contention. Moreover, the games will continue from here, so keep your NBA tabs open for a new set of monstrous games.