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NBA announces Warriors dates for totally real in-season tournament

The Warriors have four games for Adam Silver’s pet tournament, which is definitely something fans will care about

Golden State Warriors v Sacramento Kings - Game Two
Adam Silver watching the skyrocketing interest in his pet tournament
Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

NBA commissioner Adam Silver has been pushing for an in-season, European soccer-style tournament for years. And despite the near-total lack of interest from fans, players, teams, the media, America, and the rest of the world, it’s starting this year. The Golden State Warriors just learned which of their games will be a part of it.

The Warriors will play four In-Season Tournament games, which are also Regular-Season games. Those dates are against teams in their randomly-selected group of five Western Conference teams: the Oklahoma City Thunder (road), the Minnesota Timberwolves (home), the San Antonio Spurs (home), and the Sacramento Kings(road). As far as we can tell, if Draymond Green stomps on Domantas Sabonis again, he would be suspended for the next regular-season game - it doesn’t have to be in the In-Season Tournament.

For the record, the “Group Of Death” is probably West Group A, which features the Los Angeles Lakers, Phoenix Suns, Memphis Grizzlies (with no Ja Morant), the Utah Jazz, and the Portland Trail Blazers, who are probably holding onto Damian Lillard hoping he makes the All-In-Season Tournament team (yes, that is going to exist). He can put the award next to his Bubble MVP trophy.

How is the tournament going to work? Like nearly all of Silver’s changes as commissioners, it’s overly complicated.

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).

Then, those eight teams each play a quarterfinal game in “NBA team markets,” with the winners advancing to a Final Four in Las Vegas the second weekend in December. Teams who don’t advance get two extra games assigned to them for the second week in December.

Of course, with a group of five playing just four games, there’s likely to be some teams that end up with the same record. Don’t worry, there’s also an elaborate list of tiebreakers.

• Head-to-head record in the Group Stage;

• Point differential in the Group Stage;

• Total points scored in the Group Stage;

• Regular season record from the 2022-23 NBA regular season; and

• Random drawing (in the unlikely scenario that two or more teams are still tied following the previous tiebreakers).

If you win, teams get the honor of holding the “NBA Cup,” which is almost certainly awaiting a corporate sponsor. Our money is on “The Tissot Watch Cup” or possibly the “Starry Lemon-Lime Soda Cup.”

The other incentive for players? Cold hard cash.

That’s a lot of money, but relatively more valuable for rookies and players on minimum deals. $500K per player is a lot of money, more than what players on the Denver Nuggets got for winning the actual NBA title last year - they split $7.8 million among a 15-man roster and other team personnel.

Still, we can’t imagine the 50K quarterfinalist share motivating teams like the Warriors, who are more focused on winning a championship and not a made-up thing Adam Silver invented to prepare for a Las Vegas expansion team.

It’s also not clear why the money would make fans care about this thing, even with the inevitable hype from ESPN that will accompany it. It’s true that single-elimination tournaments are exciting, but that usually requires there to be stakes beyond just prize money.

But if you’re an In-Season Tournament head, by all means circle these dates on your calendar. The Warriors themselves probably won’t.

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