What is the NBA In-Season Tournament? Here’s how the new format will affect the Chicago Bulls season.

Chicago Bulls fans got a first glimpse at the road map of the 2023-24 NBA season Tuesday as the league announced the schedule for the first In-Season Tournament.

The tournament will give fans and players a taste of single-elimination competition by raising the stakes of several early regular-season games. The Bulls will play four games in the group stage — two at home and two on the road — to vie for a place in the knockout round.

Both pride and money will be on the line for players, who could earn up to $500,000 each for winning the tournament.

The group stage commences Nov. 3, and the Bulls will play their first game that day against the Brooklyn Nets at the United Center.

Here’s what else to know about the new tournament.

Bulls schedule

Nov. 3 vs. Brooklyn Nets
Nov. 17 vs. Orlando Magic
Nov. 24 at Toronto Raptors
Nov. 28 at Boston Celtics

How do the Bulls advance?

The top team from each of the six five-team groups — three groups in each conference — will advance to the knockout round along with a wild-card team from each conference.

This is the order of tiebreakers for both the wild cards and any ties for first in a group:

Point differential
Total points scored
2022-23 regular-season record
Random drawing

The two teams from each conference with the best group-stage records will host quarterfinals on Dec. 4-5, with the team with the best record (or tiebreaker standing) in its conference hosting the wild card from the same conference. The same five tiebreakers will be applied to determine seeding.

The semifinals and championship game will be played on Dec. 7 and 9 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

What’s on the line?

Each player on the championship team will receive $500,000 from the prize pool. Players on the second-place team will get $200,000 each, players on the other two semifinalists will receive $100,000 and those who lost in the quarterfinals will get $50,000.

A Most Valuable Player and an All-Tournament team will be named.

Does this mean the regular season is longer?

The Bulls will play the same 82-game regular season, which includes the six guaranteed games of the In-Season Tournament. The full schedule will be released Thursday.

Teams that don’t make it to the quarterfinals will play two consolation games on Dec. 6 and 8 against other opponents that did not advance. The quarterfinal losers from each conference will play one another on Dec. 8.

Every tournament game except for the championship game will double as a regular-season game. The results will count toward the league standings.

The two finalists will be the only teams to play an additional game due to the In-Season Tournament.

How were groups selected?

The five-team groups were drawn randomly based on last season’s conference standings. Each group includes one team from each of these categories:

Finished first through third in 2022-23
Finished fourth through sixth
Finished seventh through ninth
Finished 10th through 12th
Finished 13th through 15th

The Bulls are in Eastern Conference Group C with the Celtics, Nets, Raptors and Magic.

What’s the deal with in-season tournaments?

This is a new concept for the NBA, but in-season tournaments have become a staple of other leagues both domestically and internationally.

The most famous example is the UEFA Champions League, which pits teams from the top soccer leagues throughout Europe against one another. American sports leagues have adopted similar models in recent years — including the Commissioner’s Cup in the WNBA, the Leagues Cup in MLS and the Challenge Cup in the NWSL — while American soccer also has the U.S. Open Cup, which dates to 1914.

Important dates

Friday, Nov 3: Group stage begins
Tuesday, Nov. 28: Group stage ends
Monday-Tuesday, Dec. 4-5: Quarterfinals
Wednesday, Dec. 6: First additional games for teams that did not qualify for the knockout round
Thursday, Dec. 7: Semifinals
Friday, Dec. 8: Additional games for teams that did not advance (both from group stage and quarterfinals)
Saturday, Dec. 9: Championship game


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