Cavs Dribbles: In-Season Tournament Arrives. Should We Care?

Random dribbles ahead of the Cavaliers’ road game against the Pacers on Friday.Caris LeVert

1. Well, like it or not, the In-Season Tournament is here. The Cavs and the Pacers are in “East Group A,” along with the 76ers, Hawks and Pistons.

2. I’m really not sure what that means, other than I’m assuming the two teams with the best records in each group “advance” to the knockout stage. Or something like that.

3. I guess we’ll find out.

4. For the record, if the Cavs lose in the tournament, the league will have to schedule more games for them on the fly, in order to make sure they make it to 82. The Cavs have no idea where or when those games will be, or who they might be against.

5. Obviously, this doesn’t just impact the Cavs, but the other 29 teams as well.

6. I spoke with several retired players about the tournament and they think the whole thing is dumb. One suggested NBA commissioner Adam Silver is just trying to create interest at a very slow time of year for the league.

7. I have no issue with that. Pro basketball is a business and needs to make money. It’s no different than Coke or McDonald’s coming up with gimmicks and new marketing schemes.

8. Still, I have a feeling in 10 years we’re going to be saying, “Remember when the NBA tried that In-Season Tournament thing?”

9. Actually, in 10 years I hope to be saying, “Hi, I’m Sam. And I’m retired.”

10. One of the retired players suggested that the tournament is designed to help sagging NBA television ratings because the product isn’t very good. He said rule changes that almost entirely forbid perimeter defense are turning away fans.

11. I’m not saying I agree with all that, just passing it along. The NBA is indeed very different than when I first started covering it 25 years ago. But I wouldn’t say it’s better or worse. Just different.

12. In short, I’m willing to give the tournament idea a try. Overall, I think it’s not needed and won’t rope in casual fans any more than a regular game. But who knows? I’ve been wrong before and will be again.

13. As for the actual game, as I relayed in the middle of the night, Darius Garland (hamstring) and Jarrett Allen (ankle) have been upgraded to questionable. Backup point guard Ty Jerome (ankle) remains out.

14. And boy, would it be nice to see the Cavs with almost all of their guys. How they’ve managed to go 2-3 mostly without them — and without Allen for all of it — has been admirable.

15. The Cavs play this one, and then the Warriors at home on Sunday, before hitting the West Coast and Oklahoma City. With so many road games, it’d be nice if they could steal this game and avenge their loss to the Pacers in Cleveland.

16. Oh, right, and win a “Group Stage” game. Or something.

17. My mom told me she doesn’t always finish reading my columns because “they’re awfully long.” So I’m going to wrap this up. Chris Fedor of took a picture of the Pacers’ tournament court and I posted it below.

18. You can check out all the tournament court designs here, the Cavs’ court design here and the full tourney schedule for all 30 teams here.


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