BOSTON -- The Celtics are one of the eight teams still alive in the NBA's In-Season Tournament following an exciting (and unique). Boston is now through to the quarterfinals, and three wins away from lifting the first-ever NBA Cup.
But if the Celtics want to head to Las Vegas for a shot at that trophy (and the payday that goes with it), they have to beat the Pacers in Indiana on Monday night.
While the end of group play was a tad bit confusing, requiring fans and players alike to do a little bit of math to figure out point differentials, things get a lot more simple going forward. We're down to eight teams, and the winners of next week's quarterfinal matchups will advance to Las Vegas for the semifinals and, if they're lucky, the first-ever NBA In-Season Tournament title game.
The Celtics, Milwaukee Bucks, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Lakers, Sacramento Kings, and New Orleans Pelicans all won their respective groups to advance, while the New York Knicks and Phoenix Suns claimed wild card spots. It sets the stage for some interesting matchups in the quarterfinals, which tip off Monday night with the Celtics visiting the Pacers.
Monday, Dec. 4
Celtics at Pacers, 7:30 p.m., TNT
Pelicans at Kings, 10 p.m., TNT
Tuesday, Dec. 5
Knicks at Bucks, 7:30 p.m., TNT
Suns at Lakers, 10 p.m., TNT
Quarterfinal winners will then head to Las Vegas for the semifinals on Thursday, Dec. 7. Times remain TBD, but the East semifinal game will air on ESPN, while the West semifinal will be on TNT.
The final two teams standing will then play for all the marbles on Saturday night, Dec. 9, with the title bout set to tip off at 8:30 p.m. on ABC. The title game doesn't count toward the regular season standings, but the winner will get the first-ever NBA Cup and each player on the winning team will get $500,000. (Whether that money makes it out of Vegas is up to the players.)
As for the Celtics-Pacers matchup, Boston beat up on Indiana back on Nov. 1 to the tune of 155-104. Jayson Tatum led the way for Boston with 30 points and 12 rebounds while Derrick White added 18 points. The Celtics got 63 points out of their bench, with Sam Hauser scoring 17 and Payton Pritchard pouring in 15 points off the pine.
Boston shot 56.8 percent from the floor (54-for-95) and hit 57.1 percent of their threes (20-for-35), while the Pacers were a dreadful 5-for-37 from downtown that evening.
The Pacers didn't have Tyrese Haliburton for that game though, and he leads Indiana with 25.8 points and 11.9 assists per game this season. The Pacers are just 9-7 and 6-5 at home, but they were a perfect 4-0 in group play.
Should the Celtics advance, they would face either the Knicks or the Bucks in Sin City for a spot in the final. Boston has two wins over New York this season and beat Milwaukee, 119-116, at TD Garden last week.
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