Night 6 of the NBA’s inaugural In-Season Tournament was more about the teams that got bounced from qualifying for the knockout stage more than it was about teams punching their tickets for the quarterfinals. Heading into Friday’s action there were six teams that had already been eliminated. By the end of Friday, that number had doubled to 12. Joining the ranks of the now-departed are the Chicago Bulls, Toronto Raptors, Dallas Mavericks, Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Clippers and the NBA champion Denver Nuggets.
Sixteen teams still have a mathematical shot at qualifying to for the knockout rounds of the first NBA Cup In Las Vegas next month, but not all squads have an equal shot. In the West, the Phoenix Suns improved to 3-1 and have the inside track on reaching the next stage via the wild card. In fact, all signs are pointing to a quarterfinal matchup against the West A group winners, the Lakers, in Los Angeles. In the East, with only the Pacers having earned a spot, 10 the conference’s 15 teams are still in contention to advance.
On Friday night, the New York Knicks and Golden State Warriors avoided elimination with victories over the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs, while the Orlando Magic, Milwaukee Bucks, New Orleans Pelicans and Sacramento Kings all moved into first place with wins. The scenarios for the remaining groups can be found here. How it will play out, no one knows, but we do know when. Tuesday night will be the final group stage play. Of the eight games on the schedule, two of them — Bucks at Heat and Kings at Warriors — will have major ramifications.
Here’s a quick refresher on what to expect in the In-Season Tournament. The league has divided each conference into three five-team groups. Those teams will play group stage games on Tuesdays and Fridays in November. The teams are debuting this season’s city edition uniforms and the games will be played on specially-designed courts.