The Cleveland Cavaliers will play four familiar conference foes in the group play round of the NBA’s inaugural In-Season Tournament. The NBA announced the first round of the tournament, taking place throughout November. Per the release, the Cavs will play the Indiana Pacers on November 3, the Detroit Pistons on Nov. 17, the Philadelphia 76ers on Nov. 21, and the Atlanta Hawks on Nov. 28. Cleveland will play the Pacers and Sixers on the road and host the Pistons and Hawks at Rocket Mortage FieldHouse. None of the games will be played on national television, but will count toward the regular season record. The only game that will not count, statistically or in terms of regular season record, is the championship game.
The NBA’s In-Season Tournament, announced earlier this year, has been met with some skepticism from fans. Players on the championship team will receive a $500,000 bonus while the runners up get $200,000. The semifinals and quarterfinals will also get a cash bonus. Eight teams will advance from Group Play to the Knockout Round, which is single-elimination. The quarterfinals will be played in NBA team markets leading up to the semifinals and championship, which will take place in Las Vegas. The winning team will receive the “NBA Cup”.
As for who the Cavs will be playing, two of the teams are divisional foes and the other two are playoff regulars. Despite the NBA offseason largely being over, two of those teams could look very different by the time the tournament rolls around. The Sixers are mired in drama with James Harden and the Hawks have been linked to Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam. The Pacers, who were one of the surprise teams early last season, added champion Bruce Brown, bouncy Obi Toppin, and eighth-overall pick Jarace Walker to an already enticing roster centered around Tyrese Haliburton. Detroit is likely the worst team in the group, but still has a young roster led by Cade Cunningham and former Coach of the Year Monty Williams.
Last season, the Cavs went 4-0 against Detroit, 1-2 against Atlanta, 1-2 against Philadelphia, and 3-1 against Indiana.