This year the NBA decided to do an In-Season Tournament. The first NBA In-Season Final is set for Saturday, December 9th in Las Vegas. The final will be between the Indiana Pacers and the Los Angeles Lakers. In this final, we will crown the first-ever In-Season Tournament winner. It is no surprise the Lakers made it, a team used to winning. LeBron James will look to win the first tournament and crown himself and the Lakers as champions again. The question is what is this tournament and what is to be expected from the final? How did both teams get here?
LeBron James Takes Lakers to 1st NBA In-Season Tournament Final
The In-Season Tournament
The Inaugural In-Season tournament began on November 3rd. In a little over a month, the tournament will end on December 9th. This tournament consists of two phases: the group stage and the knockout rounds. In the group stage, all 30 NBA teams are separated by two conferences: East and West. Both conferences are divided into 3 subgroups: A,B, and C. Each sub-group has five teams. All teams are randomized into each group based on records of last season.
The top team in each sub-division qualifies and two wildcards one from each conference. The wildcard spot goes to the 2nd place team with the best record which means the wild card would then face the team with the highest record in their respective conference. It is a single-game elimination knockout round, from quarter-finals all the way to the final.
All games besides the championship will count toward teams’ records in the regular NBA season. The teams that make it into the knockout stage will be allocated to an In-Season tournament prize pool. The prizes will increase based on how far a team goes in the tournament. At the end of the tournament, the NBA will announce two awards. Those are the MVP of the In-Season Tournament and the In-Season All-Tournament team. Now that you get the gist of the tournament let’s look at both finalists and how they got there.
The Indiana Pacers
The Indiana Pacers finished 4-0 and in first place in the Eastern Group A subdivision. Second overall in the Eastern Conference. In Group A they faced off against Cavaliers, 76ers, Hawks, and Pistons. With second overall in the East, the Pacers faced the Celtics in the quarterfinals while the Bucks faced the Knicks. The Pacers beat the Celtics 122-112 with both Tyrese Haliburton and Buddy Hield scoring over 20 points. The Bucks beat the Knicks and faced the Pacers in the Semi-finals. The Pacers beat the Bucks in an intense 128-119 game. Haliburton once again was the shining star in this game with 27 points.
The Los Angeles Lakers
The Los Angeles Lakers finished 4-0 and in first place in the Western Group A subdivision. First overall in the Western Conference. In Group A they faced off against Suns, Jazz, Trailblazers, and Grizzlies. First overall in the Western Conference they played the Suns again who got the wildcard spot. The Lakers beat the Suns in the quarterfinals 106-103 in controversial fashion. This happened because LeBron called a timeout within the final second when it seemed Austin Reaves lost possession. Suns players were visibly upset about this play as this controversial call played a factor in the Lakers’ victory. Nonetheless, the Lakers got the victory. There was no controversy in the win over the Pelicans as the Lakers won 133-89.
What to Look for in the Final?
On Saturday, December 9th the Lakers and the Pacers will face off to determine the inaugural In-Season tournament winner. This will take place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Both teams will give it their all as both teams want this championship. The Pacers have yet to win a championship in the NBA, this could be their first. The Lakers and Celtics both have 17 NBA championships. They also have a chance to be the very first In-Season Champions.
Both teams have star-quality players who have each earned a case for the In-Season MVP. This is between LeBron James who just scored 30 points, 8 assists, and 5 rebounds. While Haliburton had 27 points, 15 assists, and 7 rebounds. Haliburton is also making a name for himself in the NBA season as one of the MVP candidates as of late. Haliburton is showing promise of a bright future and this ring could help him to it. Meanwhile, James wants to add another addition to his already legendary resume. It is a young Pacers team against a veteran-led Lakers team. Who will win? Stay tuned December 9th.