The first NBA tournament of the season, the long-standing and significant change in the league’s schedule, announced key dates this week, providing an early look at where the Lakers and Clippers will be playing this season.
The tournament, whose games, with the exception of the championship, are included in the regular season standings, begins in November with group games. The 30 teams are divided into six groups of five teams each. Each team plays once against the others in its group.
For the Lakers, that means group games will be November 10 in Phoenix, November 14 at home to Memphis, November 17 in Portland, and November 21 at home to Utah.
The Clippers begin in Dallas on November 10, play in Denver on November 14, and then finish with home games on November 17 against Houston and November 24 against New Orleans.
Eight teams advance to the single-elimination knockout stages with quarterfinals, semifinals, and championship. At the end there is a trophy called the NBA Cup and prize money worth around 18 million US dollars.
Creating a trophy to play for during the season is a concept that “has been floating around the league’s office for about 15 years,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver told reporters in July, drawing inspiration from European soccer leagues that are participate in tournaments of varying importance outside of their home schedule.
Silver also said tournament games will be visually differentiated with different uniform and pitch designs.
The quarterfinals will take place on December 4th and 5th. Both the semifinals on December 7 and the championship on December 9 will be held in Las Vegas.
The tournament will require adjustments in its first edition. This also applies to scheduling implications, as some encounters will not be announced until December.
When the NBA releases the regular season schedule in the coming days, teams will only get 80 of their 82 games. The 22 teams that fail to make the knockout stages of the tournament fill their schedule with two finals against other opponents who failed to make the knockout stages.
Since the quarterfinal counts as the 81st game, the four quarterfinal losers play their 82nd game against each other.
The teams in the championship will play an 83rd game on their schedule, which will not count towards the overall standings but will be credited to their bank accounts: the title team’s players will earn an extra $500,000 each, while the losers will earn an extra $200,000 . Players who lose in the semifinals will receive $100,000 and in the quarterfinals they will receive $50,000.