Where the teams stand in the NBA In-Season after Night 3 — and what comes next
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The third night of the NBA’s first In-Season (IST) tournament featured 10 games, five of which went down to the wire and one that featured a fight before either team scored a basket. A few blowouts took away some highly anticipated matchups, particularly the showdown between Chet Holmgren and Victor Wimpanyama in Oklahoma City and a playoff rematch between the Los Angeles Lakers and Memphis Grizzlies, but simultaneous last-minute finishes in Denver and Golden State were a fitting coda to the evening.
Now that it’s over, as one of the main tournament enthusiasts, I’ve taken it upon myself to break down the night’s events and explain everyone’s situation.
When the dust settled, we had more clarity as we approached Friday’s massive slate, with 11 matches including several must-win scenarios, given that any record with more than one loss in the four-match group stage means near-elimination. Certain.
Finally, kudos to the Grizzlies, who dropped to 0-3 and became the first team to be mathematically eliminated from IST.
Where the teams stand
As a reminder, teams are divided into six groups of five, with three groups in each conference (you can find the full rules, including tiebreakers and more, here). Each team plays the others in its group once, for a total of four pool play matches; The six group winners and one wild card from each conference will advance to the quarterfinals in early December. IST culminates with semifinals and finals on December 7-9 in Las Vegas.
Before we get into the individual groups, here’s a summary of where everyone stands. Basically, it would be nearly impossible for a team to finish 2-2 in pool play and still make the quarterfinals; This can only happen if the five teams in the group finish tied 2-2, or if between six and 12 teams tie 2-2 for the wild card spot in the conference. Realistically, a team would have to finish 3-1 or 4-0 to have any chance of progressing. By my count, that leaves 23 teams with a realistic hope of making it to Vegas:
Eliminated mathematically (three losses): Memphis
Only alive in theory (two losses): Oklahoma City, Dallas, Los Angeles Clippers, Detroit, San Antonio, Washington
Must win (one loss): Brooklyn, Chicago, Orlando, New York, Charlotte, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Golden State, New Orleans, Portland, Phoenix
Clean sheets (zero losses): Boston, Miami, Milwaukee, Atlanta, Indiana, Minnesota, Sacramento, Denver, Houston, Utah, Los Angeles Lakers
Competition? What tournament? (No matches played yet):Toronto
What do the groups look like?
Before we get started, a suggestion for the NBA: Call the West into Groups D, E, and F next year. This is much less complicated than having to define “Western Group A” and “Eastern Group A” every time we talk about this thing. Now, to the nitty-gritty.
Eastern Group A: In the toughest group in the East, Indiana beat Philadelphia on Tuesday thanks to a great performance from Tyrese Haliburton and actually beat Cleveland. Thus, the Pacers will top the group if they beat the Hawks on November 21 in Atlanta. If not, things could get tough, as it would open the door for either Philadelphia, Cleveland, or Atlanta to take over the group. Only Detroit is out. On Friday, Philly visits Atlanta in a must-win game for the Sixers, while Detroit visits Cleveland in a must-win game for the Cavaliers.
Eastern Group B: Miami won the Battle of the Undefeated on Tuesday in Charlotte, so the Heat and Milwaukee are the two undefeated teams atop the group. New York and Charlotte have one loss and should win from here. The showdown between the Bucks and Heat won’t happen until the night of the final IST game, Nov. 28 in Miami; Friday’s entertaining matchup is a must-win Knicks-Wizards pairing for New York, and a Bucks-Hornets matchup that Charlotte needs to win to stay alive.
Eastern Group C: Brooklyn is the only team in the East to have played three times. The Nets beat Orlando on Tuesday by 20 points to improve to 2-1 in pool play, and if the Nets beat the Raptors by a wide margin in their final game on Nov. 28, they have a good chance to become the wild card in the East. entrance. (An amusing side-event of the fourth quarter in Brooklyn is that the Nets realized in real time that they needed to run the score up in overtime; point differential will be the key tiebreaker between teams that finish 3-1 and are in the race for that wild card spot.)
The Brooklyn discussion assumes Boston (1-0) wins the series, but the Celtics still have to visit Toronto on Friday. Speaking of which… Welcome to IST, Canada! The Raptors are the only team yet to play a game in the tournament, but they will have one game on each of the remaining four nights of IST.
Western Group A: The Lakers lead the group with two wins and a scoring margin of plus 30, the best team in the tournament. This pushes them into the past…. Utah? Yes, Utah. The Jazz are also 2-0, and their plus-point margin is 23 second Better than any club, the Lakers and Utah meet in Los Angeles next Tuesday; If both teams win on Friday (the Lakers visit Portland while the Jazz host Phoenix), it will be a division title race. It’s worth noting that even with one more win, either of these teams would be good candidates for a wild card spot in the West given their strong point differential so far.
Western Group B: The Pelicans beat the Mavericks on Tuesday in what amounted to a playoff game, but New Orleans still must beat powerhouse Denver on Friday to have any realistic hope of qualifying. The Nuggets lead the series 2-0 after holding off the Clippers late on Tuesday, but they are not the only ones undefeated. Houston is 1-0 and already has a win over Denver this year, even though it wasn’t an IST game; The Nuggets will get another chance on Nov. 24 in Houston. The strength of this group – called the “Group of Death” – can work against the second-placed team, as they are unlikely to be able to match the points difference with the second-placed team in Group A.
Western group C: Dismantle the wooden wolves! Up-and-coming Minnesota beat Golden State on Tuesday in a tough game, and the Wolves will be the group winners if they win a home game on Nov. 24 against Sacramento. However, the Kings are also undefeated, and if they are victorious in Minnesota, it could lead to an exciting finish for IST: Golden State vs. Sacramento in the final game of the night, with a potential wild card spot or division title. Line.
Big Friday games
As noted above, the regular season tournament returns on Friday with 11 additional games. To help you prioritize, here’s a brief summary of pool playing records:
High importance: Denver (2-0) over New Orleans (1-1); Boston (1-0) at Toronto (0-0); Philadelphia (1-1) at Atlanta (1-0); Los Angeles Lakers (2-0) over Portland (1-1).
some importance: Phoenix (0-1) over Utah (2-0); Milwaukee (1-0) over Charlotte (1-1); Sacramento (1-0) over San Antonio (0-2); Houston (1-0) – Los Angeles Clippers (0-2).
Reorganize your sock drawer: Orlando (0-1) at Chicago (0-1); New York (0-1) at Washington (0-2); Detroit (0-2) at Cleveland (0-1)
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(Lakers-Grizzlies photo: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
(Tags for translation)Charlotte Hornets