The NBA has stepped out on a limb and decided to try something different this season: add a soccer-style in-season group play tournament that leads to a knock-out round, awarding the winning team a trophy and some cash.
And the Phoenix Suns will be there.
After losing their first game of the In-Season Tournament to the Los Angeles Lakers, they rattled off three wins against the remaining teams in the group, all while adding a point differential high enough to put them in a position to be one of four teams from the Western Conference to play in the inaugural tournament.
The Suns officially locked up the wild card spot in the IST on Tuesday night after the Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Oklahoma City Thunder game. The Wolves won, but did not do so by 38 points, which would have put them ahead of the Suns in the point differential.
You now will have to answer numerous questions from your friends as to what the tournament is, how it works, and what happens next. If that is the case, the NBA accomplished its mission.
Here is a synopsis of what it is and how it works:
As for what happens next?
This means the Suns will play the Lakers in Los Angeles early next week, a win equates to advancement and a loss means...they just carry on with their season. A loss means the NBA will add a game to their schedule, ensuring that they have a total of 82 by season’s end.
But we’re not talking about what happens if they lose. If they win, they advance to the semi-final round in Las Vegas next week.
Thus far the Suns are 0-2 against their Pacific Division rivals. It is of note, however, that the Suns have yet to play Los Angeles with Devin Booker in the lineup. That’s Western Conference Player of the Week Devin Booker.