NBA In-Season Tournament clinching scenarios: What’s at stake for final games of Group Play

On the final day of Group Play in the NBA’s inaugural In-Season Tournament, the picture for the Knockout Round has yet to take shape.

While the Lakers and Pacers have already punched their tickets to the Quarterfinals, there are four groups that have yet to determine a winner. Within those groups are 11 teams still vying for an opportunity to move one step closer to the grand prize of $500,000 per player.

Of those 11 teams, eight will be in action on Tuesday night. And while some control their own destiny with respect to advancing, some will need help from elsewhere.

Ahead of the final day of the NBA’s In-Season Tournament Group Play, here’s a look at the schedule and how each contending team can clinch their respective groups.

MORE: NBA In-Season Tournament standings, results, schedule–bet-online-5\

What NBA games are on today?

Game Time (ET) TV channel
Bulls at Celtics 7:30 p.m.
Raptors at Nets 7:30 p.m.
Hawks at Cavaliers 7:30 p.m.
Bucks at Heat 7:30 p.m. TNT
Hornets at Knicks 7:30 p.m.
Thunder at Timberwolves 8 p.m.
Rockets at Mavericks 8:30 p.m.
Warriors at Kings 10 p.m. TNT

NBA In-Season Tournament Group clinching scenarios today

East Group A

The Pacers have clinched East Group A

After posting a perfect 4-0 record in Group Play, Indiana will host a Semifinal game on Dec. 4 or 5.

East Group B

  Team Record Diff Points
1. Bucks 3-0 +39 371
2. Knicks 2-1 +18 325
3. Heat 2-1 +11 330

Schedule: Bucks at Heat (7:30 p.m. ET, TNT), Hornets at Knicks (7:30 p.m. ET)

Bucks clinch East Group B if…

  • Bucks defeat Heat OR
  • Knicks defeat Hornets AND Bucks win tiebreaker over Knicks and Heat

Heat clinch East Group B if…

  • Heat defeat Bucks AND Knicks lose to Hornets OR
  • Heat defeat Bucks AND win tiebreaker over Bucks and Knicks

Knicks clinch East Group B if…

  • Knicks defeat Hornets AND Bucks lose to Heat AND Knicks win tiebreaker over Bucks and Heat

East Group C

  Team Record Diff Points
1. Magic 3-1 +22 446
2. Celtics 2-1 0 325
3. Nets 2-1 +8 340

Schedule: Bulls at Celtics (7:30 p.m. ET), Raptors at Nets (7:30 p.m. ET)

Magic clinch East Group C if…

  • Nets lose to Raptors OR
  • Celtics defeat Bulls AND Magic win tiebreaker over Nets and Celtics

Nets clinch East Group C if…

  • Nets defeat Raptors AND Celtics lose to Bulls OR
  • Nets defeat Raptors AND win tiebreaker over Celtics and Magic

Celtics clinch East Group C if…

  • Celtics defeat Bulls, Nets defeat Raptors AND Celtics win tiebreaker over Magic and Nets

West Group A

The Lakers have clinched West Group A

After posting a perfect 4-0 record in Group Play, Los Angeles will host a Semifinal game on Dec. 4 or 5.

West Group B

  Team Record Diff Points
1. Pelicans 3-1 +33 463
2. Rockets 2-1 +16 309

Schedule: Rockets at Mavericks (8:30 p.m. ET)

Because of winning the head-to-head tiebreaker, the Rockets clinch West Group B if…

  • Rockets defeat Mavericks

Because of losing the head-to-head tiebreaker, the Pelicans clinch West Group B if…

  • Rockets lose to Mavericks

West Group C

  Team Record Diff Points
1. Kings 3-0 +29 358
2. Timberwolves 2-1 -3 332
3. Warriors 2-1 +5 360

Schedule: Thunder at Timberwolves (8 p.m. ET), Warriors at Kings (10 p.m. ET, TNT)

Kings clinch West Group C if…

  • Kings defeat Warriors OR
  • Timberwolves defeat Thunder AND Kings win tiebreaker over both Timberwolves and Warriors

Timberwolves clinch West Group C if…

  • Timberwolves defeat Thunder, Kings lose to Warriors AND Timberwolves win tiebreaker over Kings and Warriors

Warriors clinch West Group C if…

  • Warriors defeat Kings AND Timberwolves lose to Thunder OR
  • Warriors defeat Kings AND Warriors win tiebreaker over Kings and Timberwolves

NBA In-Season Tournament Group Play tiebreakers, explained

For three groups, tiebreakers could come into play when determining group winners. In East Group B, the Bucks, Heat and Knicks each have an opportunity to emerge as the group winner while the Celtics, Magic and Nets are all alive in East Group C.

And while West Group B is more straightforward, more complex tiebreakers could also come into play to determine the winner of West Group C, which will be one of the Kings, Timberwolves and Warriors.

Per the NBA, this is the sequence in which ties among two or more teams in a group are broken:

  • Head-to-head record in the Group Stage;
  • Point differential in the Group Stage;
  • Total points scored in the Group Stage;
  • Regular-season record from the 2022-23 NBA regular season; and
  • Random drawing (in the unlikely scenario that two or more teams are still tied following the previous tiebreakers).

There is a potential for a three-way tie in both undecided East groups and West Group C. Based on the above order, point differential will be the first tiebreaker, meaning teams will have a greater sense of urgency in late-game situations, regardless of whether or not they are leading on trailing by a big number.

What happens to teams that are eliminated from the NBA In-Season Tournament?

The 22 teams that do not qualify for the Knockout Rounds will play two regular-season games during tournament off nights that week (Dec. 6 and 8). The four teams that lose in the Quarterfinals will play a regular-season game on Dec. 8.


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