NBA In-Season Tournament Odds: Bucks, Celtics, Nuggets among favourites to win

Jordan Ramsay | Updated Nov 09, 2023

The NBA In-Season Tournament returns to the hardwood Friday night.

The NBA’s latest experiment continues on Friday as the In-Season Tournament group stage returns. The league has clearly put a lot of effort into this tournament, with new court designs and jerseys, but the jury’s still out on whether or not this will be a long-term success.

We’re taking a look at this all-new betting market as teams vie for the (maybe one day coveted?) NBA Cup.

Don’t forget to check out complete NBA game odds, NBA futures and NBA specials and props.

2023 NBA In-Season Tournament odds

Milwaukee Bucks (+500)

Oddly enough, the Bucks are favoured to win the In-Season Tournament, but they trail Boston on the NBA championship odds. Milwaukee took out the Knicks 110-105 in their first tournament game, with Damian Lillard (30 points, four rebounds, four assists) Giannis Antetokounmpo (22 points, eight rebounds, six assists) leading the way.

The Bucks made a huge three-team blockbuster trade for Lillard in the off-season and the results have been fairly positive, although not necessarily dominant. Lillard is averaging 24.3 points per game (down from 32.2 ppg last season) and a team-high 4.7 assists. Antetokounmpo leads the team with 24.4 ppg (averaged 31.1 ppg last season) and he’s averaging a team-best 9.0 rebounds per game.

If Lillard and Antetokounmpo really start gelling, Milwaukee will be an even bigger nightmare for opposing defences to deal with.

Boston Celtics (+600)

Boston will play their first tournament game at home on Friday against the Nets. The Celtics were aggressive this off-season, trading for Kristaps Porzingis in the hopes of finally getting over the hump. They’ve been right in the thick of it as far as championship contenders over the last few years, losing in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals last year and losing in Game 6 of the NBA Finals two years ago.

Early on, the Porzingis addition looks like it will pay off. Boston now has three players averaging over 20 ppg, with Jayson Tatum leading the way at 28.4 ppg, then Jaylen Brown at 21.4 ppg and Porzingis at 20.9 ppg. Jrue Holiday, who is averaging 13.4 ppg and a team-high 5.3 assists, was another smart trade that gives the Celtics’ arguably the best starting lineup in the NBA.

Boston is locked into one of the weaker tournament groups, so they should go far.

Denver Nuggets (+650)

The reigning NBA champs started right where they left off last year as they boast a league-best 8-1 record heading into the weekend. Losing Bruce Brown in free agency was a hit, but two-time league MVP Nikola Jokic (29.1 ppg, 12.9 rpg, 8.0 apg), Canadian Jamal Murray (16.3 ppg) and a solid core of depth pieces make the Nuggets arguably the strongest overall lineups in the NBA.

Denver won their tournament-opener 125-114 against Dallas last week, but their second tournament game isn’t until Tuesday when they host the Clippers. Keep in mind, however, that Murray has been ruled out of the lineup for three to four weeks because of a hamstring injury, so that could take him out of the tournament altogether. That hole will be filled by players like Michael Porter Jr. (16.0 ppg), Aaron Gordon (13.4 ppg, 1.1 blocks) and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (10.2 ppg, 1.9 steals).

There’s been no championship hangover for the Nuggets and they should be a lock to make a run at the NBA Cup.

How does the In-Season Tournament work?

Group stage:

  • All 30 NBA teams have been seeded and sorted into six groups (three per conference) of five teams. Each conference sorted the teams into five pots based based on last year’s regular season standings and a draw determined the groups, similar to how the FIFA World Cup works.
  • Each team plays four games in the group stage (two home, two away) against teams within its group. All group stage games are held Tuesdays and Fridays in November and they will also count toward the regular season standings.

Knockout stage:

  • The top team in each group advances to the knockout stage. The best team in each conference to not win their group will advance as a wild card, leaving eight teams for the knockout stage. The remaining 22 teams will have games added to their schedules to ensure they play 82.
  • Quarterfinal games are played on December 4 and 5, with locations determined by the group stage results.
  • The semifinal games will be played at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on December 7.
  • The championship game will be played at T-Mobile Arena on December 9.
  • Quarterfinal and semifinal games count in the standings, but the championship game does not. Statistics from the championship game are not applied to regular season totals.
  • Each player on the NBA Cup championship team will earn $500,000, while members of the runner-up team earn $200,000.

Tiebreaker format

In the event that two or more teams have equal records at the end of group stage play, the following tiebreakers will be applied in this order:

  1. Head-to-head record in group stage
  2. Point differential in group stage
  3. Total points scored in group stage
  4. Regular season record from 2022-23
  5. Random drawing.

NBA In-Season Tournament groups

East Group AEast Group BEast Group C
Philadelphia 76ersMilwaukee BucksBoston Celtics
Cleveland CavaliersNew York KnicksBrooklyn Nets
Atlanta HawksMiami HeatToronto Raptors
Indiana PacersWashington WizardsChicago Bulls
Detroit PistonsCharlotte HornetsOrlando Magic
West Group AWest Group BWest Group C
Memphis GrizzliesDenver NuggetsSacramento Kings
Phoenix SunsLos Angeles ClippersGolden State Warriors
Los Angeles LakersNew Orleans PelicansMinnesota Timberwolves
Utah JazzDallas MavericksOklahoma City Thunder
Portland Trail BlazersHouston RocketsSan Antonio Spurs