NBA In-Season Tournament

Warriors enter uncharted waters in first NBA In-Season Tournament

NBC Universal, Inc.

The Warriors on Friday are entering uncharted NBA territory: The In-Season Tournament, beginning against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Paycom Center. 

All 30 teams have been split up into six five-team groups, three in the Western Conference and three in the East. The Warriors are part of the West’s Group C, which also consists of the Thunder, Minnesota Timberwolves, Sacramento Kings and San Antonio Spurs. The inaugural tournament is made up of two stages: Group Play and Knockout Rounds. 

Group Play begins Friday as the first “Tournament Night.” Those will run every Tuesday and Friday from Nov. 3 through Nov. 28, with the exception being Election Day on Nov. 7. Group Play will count as regular-season games, both for record and stats. Eight teams will then advance to the Knockout Rounds. Those eight teams will be made up from the team with the best standings in each group, plus one wild-card team from each conference. 

Wild-card teams will be the team with the best Group Play record that finished second in its group.

The quarterfinals will run Dec. 4 and 5, and winning teams will advance to the semifinals in Las Vegas at the T-Mobile Arena on Dec. 7 and the championship on Dec. 9. Quarterfinals and semifinals games will count towards regular-season records and stats, but the championship game will not. The 22 teams that do not qualify for the Knockout Rounds will play two games on Dec. 6 and Dec. 8. 

And the NBA’s new wrinkle will bring a new look to arenas. Each tournament game will have a special court. Here’s how Chase Center will look: 

Warriors players and coaches have shown a desire to take home a different trophy, too. The winning team will hoist the NBA Cup and each winning player earns $500,000. There will be a tournament MVP and All-Tournament team as well. 

"I said to [Warriors general manager] Mike Dunleavy about a month ago, I said, 'Hey Mike, what do you think about this in-season tournament?’ " Warriors president Brandon Schneider said while joining NBC Sports Bay Area’s in-game broadcast during a preseason game against the Kings. “He said, 'Well, Draymond Green and Chris Paul told me we're going to win it.' I said, 'OK, that's all I needed to know.' "

Even Wednesday morning on his Instagram story, Green wrote, “I must say … I’m excited as hell for this in-season tournament!!!” Green in a video with the NBA made his picks for Group Play and has the Warriors winning Group C, the Los Angeles Lakers winning Group A, the Los Angeles Clippers coming out of Group B and the Denver Nuggets as the West’s wild-card team.

Golden State’s slate of games won't be easy, though. 

The Thunder are a young team that already can contend, and this will be the first time the Warriors face former No. 2 overall draft pick Chet Holmgren. Their next tournament game is Nov. 14 against the Timberwolves in San Francisco, followed by welcoming Victor Wembanyama and the Spurs to Chase Center for the first time in a regular-season game on Nov. 24. The Warriors’ final Group Play game is against the Kings in Sacramento on Nov. 28.

"It's going to be really interesting," Steve Kerr said Wednesday at Chase Center before the Warriors' game against the Kings. "We all saw the court designs and stuff. There's gonna be a different feel, for sure. Since we've never been through this, it's hard to really know what to expect. But I do think the competitive nature of all players and coaches in this league, I think everybody's going to want to win. And guys are going to go hard. 

"I think it's good. I like what the league is doing. I think it's got potential to be really fun, so I'm all in."

All of this will be new, but the Warriors appear to be all-in on winning whatever is in front of them following last season’s disappointing early playoff exit.

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