As the NBA’s inaugural In-Season Tournament reaches its climactic final day of group stage play on Tuesday night, the competition intensifies with only six spots in the quarterfinals yet to be claimed. The Lakers and Pacers stand as the lone teams to have secured their places in the eight-team knockout stage, leaving 16 teams still in contention for a shot at glory in the first NBA Cup in Las Vegas next month.
Several teams are on the cusp of either clinching their group or securing a wildcard entry, each scenario bringing its own set of intricate conditions. Here’s a breakdown of the key clinching scenarios and wildcard possibilities for various teams:
Atlanta Hawks finished second in the group and won the tiebreaker over any second-place team from other groups after victories by Atlanta, Boston, and Brooklyn and losses by Miami and New York.
The Boston Celtics won their Game, and so did the Brooklyn Nets. As a result, the Boston Celtics beat the tiebreaker over Orlando and Brooklyn. If the Boston Celtics win their Game and the New York Knicks, Miami Heat, and Cleveland Cavaliers all lose their Games, then the Boston Celtics will be heading to the quarters. If the Boston Celtics win their Game, they will finish second in the group and win the tiebreaker over any second-place team from other groups with a 3-1 record. If the Cleveland Cavaliers, New York Knicks, Miami Heat, and Brooklyn Nets all lose their Games, and the Boston Celtics win, then the Boston Celtics will win the tiebreaker over any second-place team from other groups.
The Brooklyn Nets won their game, while the Boston Celtics lost theirs. As a result, the Brooklyn Nets beat the tiebreaker over Boston and Orlando. If the Brooklyn Nets win their next game and the Cleveland Cavaliers, New York Knicks, and Miami Heat all lose their games, they will finish second in their group.
Charlotte Hornets secured second place in their group, winning the tiebreaker against any other second-place team after winning against Cleveland Cavs and Miami Heat. At the same time, the Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets suffered losses.
Cleveland Cavaliers win, and additionally, New York Knicks, Miami Heat, Boston Celtics, and Brooklyn Nets lose. Cleveland wins the tiebreaker with a 3-1 record.
Miami secured a victory and won the tiebreaker over both Milwaukee and New York. They needed to win their game for Miami to finish second in the group, while Cleveland, Boston, and Brooklyn all lost. If Miami finishes second in the group, they will win the tiebreaker over any other second-place team from different groups with a 3-1 record. If Cleveland, New York, Boston, and Brooklyn all lose and Miami finishes second in the group, they will win the tiebreaker over any other second-place team from different groups.
Milwaukee Bucks win. If the New York Knicks lose and Cleveland, Boston, and Brooklyn all lose, the Knicks are out of playoffs.
New York Knicks
The New York Knicks need to win, and the Milwaukee Bucks need to lose their Game. If this happens, the New York Knicks will win the tiebreaker over the Milwaukee Bucks and the Miami Heat.
Suppose the New York Knicks win their Game, and the Miami Heat, Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston Celtics, and Brooklyn Nets all lose their Games. In that case, the New York Knicks will finish second in their group and win the tiebreaker over any other second-place team from other groups with a 3-1 record.
If the Miami Heat, Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston Celtics, and Brooklyn Nets all lose their games, and the New York Knicks win, they will win the tiebreaker over any other second-place team from other groups.
Brooklyn Nets lost, and Orlando Magic won the tiebreaker over the Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets due to a better head-to-head record. Also, the Boston Celtics defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers, while the New York Knicks and Miami Heat lost.
Cleveland Cavaliers, New York Knicks, Miami Heat, Boston Celtics, and Brooklyn Nets all lost. As a result, the Philadelphia 76ers finished second in their group and won the tiebreaker over any second-place team from other groups.
In the dynamic landscape of the Western Conference, the Phoenix Suns are emerging as a formidable force with a 3-1 record, putting them in pole position to secure a coveted spot in the next stage through the wild card. As the chessboard of possibilities unfolds, all signs converge towards a high-stakes quarterfinal clash against the West A group winners, the Lakers, set to grow in the iconic city of Los Angeles.
Golden State Warriors
Meanwhile, the Golden State Warriors are strategically positioned to clinch Group C, provided specific scenarios play out in their favor. Victory, coupled with a Minnesota loss or a triumph alongside winning tiebreakers against Sacramento and Minnesota, could see the Warriors stamping their authority on Group C.
But the drama doesn’t end there for the Warriors. A wildcard entry is within their grasp if they secure a victory, finish second in the group, and win tiebreakers over any second-place team from another group boasting a 3-1 record. The stakes are high, and every move on the court becomes pivotal for the Warriors.
In the intense battle for Group B supremacy, the Houston Rockets are eyeing the top spot, and their path is clear – a victory is all it takes to clinch the group. The fate of Group B is intricately woven into the outcome of Houston’s performance.
In Group C, the Minnesota Timberwolves are in contention to claim the top spot. For them, a victory, coupled with a Sacramento loss and winning tiebreakers over both Sacramento and Golden State, would solidify their grip on the group. The Timberwolves, however, have a wildcard entry as a safety net – a victory, securing the second spot in the group, and winning tiebreakers over any second-place teams from other groups with a 3-1 record would open the wildcard door for them.
New Orleans Pelicans
As the chessboard of playoff scenarios unfolds, the New Orleans Pelicans are in the mix for Group B, and their fate hinges on a Houston loss. The drama and suspense in the Western Conference are reaching a crescendo, with each game and result shaping the destiny of these teams.
The Phoenix Suns, currently in the wild card conversation, could find themselves with a golden ticket if Minnesota stumbles. Alternatively, winning tiebreakers over second-place teams from other groups finishing 3-1 would also pave the way for the Suns.
Lastly, the Sacramento Kings have their sights set on clinching Group C. A victory would secure their spot, while a strategic combination of a Minnesota victory and winning tiebreakers over Minnesota and Golden State could also see them emerge triumphant in the group.
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