As the NBA unveils the in-season tournament schedule on August 15, anticipation is building for an exciting competition that introduces an innovative tournament structure. In addition, the upcoming NBA season opener between the San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Mavericks adds another layer of excitement, marking the NBA debut of Victor Wembanyama and setting the stage for an intense showdown against Luka Doncic. With these events on the horizon, the basketball world is in for a season of unforgettable moments and fierce competition.
NBA in-season tournament schedule reveals what lies ahead
The highly anticipated in-season tournament season will begin on Friday, November 3 for several NBA teams. The climax of this exciting event will take place with the semifinals on Thursday, December 7, followed by the championship game on Saturday, December 9. Both matchups will take place at the esteemed T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
This tournament structure comprises two distinct phases: pool play and elimination rounds. Pool play involves the 30 teams being randomly distributed into groups of five teams within their respective conferences. This distribution is based on their win-loss records from the previous 2022-23 regular season.
Beginning November 3 and extending through Tuesday, November 28, each team will participate in four designated Group Play games on designated "Tournament Nights." These games will see each team face all opponents within their group, with two games played at home and two on the road.
Eight teams will emerge to advance to the knockout rounds. This elite group will comprise the top team from each of the six groups in terms of Group Play game standings, along with two "wild cards": these are the teams from each conference that have the best records in Group Play games and finished second in their respective groups.
The intensity increases in the knockout rounds, which feature single-elimination quarterfinals (scheduled for Monday, December 4 and Tuesday, December 5), as well as the semifinal and championship rounds. As these skilled teams face off, they will compete not only for a share of the cumulative prize money, but also for the distinguished Season Tournament trophy, the NBA Cup.
October 25 will be Victor Wembanyama's official NBA debut and it will be against the Dallas Mavericks and Luka Doncic 👀 pic.twitter.com/EE3kZDBQvK
- Pasion Basket (@PasionBasketNBA) August 11, 2023
Wembanyama to make NBA debut against Doncic
In a revelation for the upcoming 2023-24 NBA season, Victor Wembanyama is set to make his NBA debut facing Luka Doncic, as the San Antonio Spurs are lined up to host the Dallas Mavericks. This update came as part of an intriguing report from NBA reporter Marc Stein, who shared the news Thursday night.
Information relayed by Stein's sources reveals that Wembanyama's first official NBA game is tentatively scheduled for October 25, with his Spurs hosting Dallas and featured player Doncic. The full, formal schedule for the 2023-24 season is expected to be released next week.
This showdown between the Mavericks and Spurs marks the beginning of a new chapter in their intense in-state rivalry. It is an especially notable game as Wembanyama, the highly lauded No. 1 overall pick, will test his NBA readiness against four-time All-NBA First Team Doncic.
Some may find the league's decision to have Dallas open on the road surprising, considering the Mavericks finished higher in the standings last season. Also, the experience advantage that Doncic and Kyrie Irving have over most Spurs players might have suggested a different opening arrangement. Nevertheless, this game is anticipated to be a must-watch event, captivating not only Mavericks and Spurs fans, but also basketball enthusiasts in general.
Recent history between the two teams adds to the excitement, as the Mavericks have dominated the Spurs in 12 of 15 games played dating back to the 2019-20 season. Dallas even secured seven straight wins against San Antonio before losing last season's finale, a loss that occurred while Doncic, Irving and other key players were on the bench to secure a better draft position. This new season opener promises to renew their rivalry and offers an electrifying start to the NBA season.