The NBA In-Season Tournament has added a new wrinkle to what felt like mundane early-season regular-season games. While the NBA Cup is not as prestigious as the Larry O'Brien Trophy, teams like the Los Angeles Lakers have seemingly taken the tournament action very seriously thus far.
Group play in the tournament is officially over as we have now moved on to the quarterfinals. As the winners of their five-team group, the Lakers advanced to the quarterfinals alongside five other group winners. Two wild card teams also advanced, which was based on record and point differential.
One of those wild card teams is the Phoenix Suns, who finished second in the Lakers' group. Los Angeles and Phoenix will rematch in the quarterfinals and here is everything that fans need to know.
When is the Lakers-Suns In-Season Tournament game?
The NBA intentionally blocked off a portion of the schedule that was not filled with games in order to schedule these games as part of the regular season. As a result, this Lakers-Suns game was scheduled for Tuesday, December 5. The Lakers' last game before this game is on December 2.
Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. PST as the Lakers and Suns will be the last In-Season Tournament game of the day. As the group winners, the Lakers are hosting the action.
Who do the Lakers play after the Suns in the In-Season Tournament?
This depends on the outcome of the game. We have reached the knockout stage of the tournament, meaning that one loss will end the Lakers' dreams of winning the NBA Cup and the $500,000 per player that comes with it.
The winner of Lakers-Suns will play the winner of the other West quarterfinal game between the Sacramento Kings and New Orleans Pelicans. As the No. 1 seed, the Lakers would host either team if they were to advance. The Suns would have to play on the road again. The semi-final also counts as a regular season game, but the finals do not.
The loser of Lakers-Suns will play the loser between the Kings and Pelicans. That game is not part of the tournament and simply counts as a regular-season game.
What happened to the NBA teams that didn't qualify for the knockout stage?
The other 22 NBA teams that did not qualify for the knockout stage of the In-Season Tournament will add two regular season games to their schedule. As of the time of writing this, those games have not yet been added but they will take place in the blocked-off portion of the calendar.
In the end, all 30 teams will still have 82 games played. The teams that did not make it got two non-tournament games added, while the teams making the knockout stage will play their two extra regular-season games against fellow tournament teams.