NBA In-Season Tournament: How can the Kings advance to bracket stage?

Nov 22, 2023, 1:22 PM

The victory beam is lit inside the arena after the Sacramento Kings defeated the Oklahoma City Thun...

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 10: The victory beam is lit inside the arena after the Sacramento Kings defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder during the NBA In-Season Tournament at Golden 1 Center on November 10, 2023 in Sacramento, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

(Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

In the inaugural year of the NBA In-Season Tournament, the Sacramento Kings have positioned themselves atop West Group C halfway through the group stage.

On their heels are the Minnesota Timberwolves and Golden State Warriors, who can still compete to win the group. Meanwhile, the Oklahoma City Thunder have a slim, albeit unlikely, chance to sneak in via the wildcard race.

And, at the bottom of the group are tantalizing rookie Victor Wembanyama and the San Antonio Spurs, who are officially eliminated.

Sacramento controls their fate in the remaining matchups against the Timberwolves and Warriors. If the Kings win both remaining In-Season Tournament games, they will win West Group C.

But, their 2-0 record with a point differential of +16 leaves them with a narrow margin of error. Minnesota sits at 2-0 with a +10 differential, leaving Friday’s matchup between those squads with significant NBA In-Season Tournament implications.

NBA In-Season Tournament West Group C:

  • 1. Sacramento Kings (2-0) +16
  • 2. Minnesota Timberwolves (2-0) +10
  • 3. Golden State Warriors (1-1) -1
  • 4. Oklahoma City Thunder (1-2) +27
  • 5. San Antonio Spurs (0-3) -52

Sacramento’s remaining games are against their two primary competitors: Minnesota and Golden State. The winner between Minnesota and Sacramento could secure a group victory by taking care of business in their final matchup.

Yet, if both sides split their last two games, the point-differential tie-breaker comes into play. The Timberwolves final game takes place Tuesday at home against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Golden State’s path to securing the group includes winning their showdowns against San Antonio and the Kings, as long as Minnesota does not finish undefeated within group play.

Luckily, the single Western Conference wild card spot could come from Group C. The other standout contenders are the Phoenix Suns (2-1), New Orleans Pelicans (2-1), Denver Nuggets (2-1), and the Houston Rockets (1-1).

Whether from winning the group or sliding into the wild card spot, qualifying for the single-elimination bracket is all that matters. From there, as seen in March Madness, anything can happen.

How does the NBA In-Season Tournament elimination bracket work?

The eight teams, three group leaders, and one wild card per conference are then placed in a single elimination bracket starting with the quarterfinals, played in local markets, on December 4th or 5th.

Those who advance would be scheduled to play at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, for the semifinals (Dec. 7) and subsequent final (Dec. 9) championship game, with the winner awarded the inaugural NBA Cup.

What are the NBA In-Season Tournament tiebreakers?

  • 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
  • Random drawing (in the unlikely scenario that two or more teams are still tied following the previous tiebreakers)

When is the next Sacramento Kings Game?

The Kings and Pelicans will return to the Smoothie King Center on Monday for a rematch in what will be Sacramento’s final game in New Orleans this season.

Be sure to tune in right here on Sactown Sports 1140 for all of your Kings vs. Pelicans coverage, beginning at 3:30 PM PST on Game Night before a 5:00 PM PST tip-off from New Orleans.

Upcoming Schedule

  • Wednesday, November 22nd – Sacramento Kings @ New Orleans Pelicans – 5:00 PM PST
  • Friday, November 24th – Sacramento Kings @ Minnesota Timberwolves** – 5:00 PM PST
  • Tuesday, November 28th – Sacramento Kings vs. Golden State Warriors** – 7:00 PM PST
  • Wednesday, November 29th – Sacramento Kings vs. Los Angeles Clippers – 7:00 PM PST
  • Saturday, December 2nd – Sacramento Kings vs. Denver Nuggets – 7:00 PM PST

** NBA In-Season Tournament Group Play

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NBA In-Season Tournament: How can the Kings advance to bracket stage?