NBA In-Season Tournament

Celtics fans' complete guide to the NBA in-season tournament

Boston's quest for the first-ever NBA Cup begins Friday night.

NBC Universal, Inc.

Just a heads up: When you tune into the Boston Celtics' game against the Brooklyn Nets on Friday night, things might look a little different.

The eighth game on the Celtics' regular-season schedule is also their first NBA In-Season Tournament contest. Which means the C's will wear their new City Edition uniforms -- and play on a (temporary) new home court for the first time in franchise history.

While your eyes adjust to that bold green-and-gold floor -- which will replace the traditional TD Garden parquet for Boston's In-Season Tournament home games -- let's break down the tournament details from a Celtics perspective.

How does the NBA In-Season Tournament work?

Picture the FIFA World Cup integrated into the NBA's regular season, and you have the first-ever "NBA Cup."

The NBA's 30 teams are divided into six groups of five teams each. During the Group Stage, each team plays every group opponent once for a total of four games apiece -- all of which also count as regular-season games.

Eight teams advance from the Group Stage to the Knockout Rounds: the six winners of each group -- determined by the best record in group play -- and a Wild Card team from each conference, determined by the second-place finisher with the best overall record in their respective conference. (Click here for the tiebreaker rules if two or more teams in a group are tied.)

The Knockout Rounds are essentially a single-elimination, eight-team tournament, with quarterfinal matchups hosted by the higher-seeded teams. So, the East No. 1 seed hosts the East No. 4 seed, East No. 2 hosts East No. 3, and the same in the West.

The semifinal games -- featuring the two East quarterfinal winners playing each other and the two West quarterfinal winners facing off -- and the championship game (East vs. West) will take place in Las Vegas.

What group are the Celtics in?

The Celtics are in East Group C, which features the following five teams:

  • Brooklyn Nets
  • Boston Celtics
  • Chicago Bulls
  • Orlando Magic
  • Toronto Raptors

As you might expect, Boston is heavily favored to win this group. Click here for a full breakdown of the Celtics' four group opponents.

What is the Celtics' group play schedule?

Boston's four group stage games are spread out over a 19-day span from Nov. 10 to Nov. 28. Again, each contest counts as one of the team's 82 regular-season games. Every game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Boston.

  • Friday, Nov. 10: vs. Brooklyn Nets, 7:30 p.m. ET
  • Friday, Nov. 17: at Toronto Raptors, 7:30 p.m. ET
  • Friday, Nov. 24: at Orlando Magic, 2:30 p.m. ET
  • Tuesday, Nov. 28: vs. Chicago Bulls, 7:30 p.m. ET

What is the Knockout Rounds schedule?

The knockout rounds will take place the week of Dec. 4, culminating with the NBA Cup championship game on Saturday, Dec. 9 in Las Vegas. If the Celtics advance to the championship game, here's what their schedule would look like:

  • Quarterfinals: Monday, Dec. 4 or Tuesday, Dec. 5 (at higher seed)
  • Semifinals: Thursday, Dec. 7 (in Las Vegas)
  • Championship: Saturday, Dec. 9 (in Las Vegas)

In this scenario, Boston's quarterfinal and semifinal games would count as regular-season games, but the championship game would not. So, if the C's make it to the title contest, they'd end up playing 83 games.

If the Celtics don't advance out of the group stage, they'd simply play regular-season games on Wednesday, Dec. 6 and Friday, Dec. 8 against a to-be-determined opponent. If they make it to the quarterfinals and lose, they'd play on Dec. 8 but not Dec. 6.

Got all that?

What do the Celtics get if they win?

For starters, they'd secure the first-ever NBA Cup. They'd also receive a more tangible prize: money.

Players on the team that wins the NBA Cup will take home an extra $500,000 each, while the runner-up will receive $200,000 each. Semifinal losers will collect $100,000 each and the quarterfinal losers get $50,000.

Half a million might be a drop in the bucket for Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, but for a player like rookie Jordan Walsh, that's essentially half of his 2023-24 salary.

Beyond the cash, Boston also could send a statement that its sights are set on Banner 18 by besting the league's 29 other teams.

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