NBA In-Season Tournament Odds, Knockout Round Rules & MVP Betting Breakdown

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Written By Josh Lander | Last Updated
nba in season tournament rules

NBA In-Season Tournament group stage action concluded dramatically on Tuesday night. The Celtics () have the shortest odds to win the first IST title across the best betting sites, despite squeaking out of pool play. In this article, we will break down NBA In-Season Tournament odds plus the rules and format of the rest of the tournament. Click on the odds below to bet now.

NBA In-Season Tournament Odds

Team To Win Championship

In-Season Tournament Bracket

The bracket culminates with East vs. West champions in the final. In the East, it’s the 1-seed Bucks vs. 4-seed Knicks and 2-seed Pacers vs. third-seeded Celtics. In the Western Conference, the top seed is the Lakers, and LA faces the 4-seed Suns. The second-seeded Kings face the 3-seed Pelicans.

The first quarterfinal on Monday night features Boston at Indiana before New Orleans at Sacramento. On Tuesday, New York visits Milwaukee before Phoenix at Los Angeles.

NBA In-Season Tournament MVP Odds

It’s A Guessing Game

It’s difficult to fully understand the criteria for the IST MVP in year one of the tourney. We don’t know if a player must win the finals to truly have a shot at winning the award. Most likely, the NBA will select the player from the winning team who performs best throughout the Knockout Round and championship game.

It might be worthwhile for risk-averse bettors to wait for the final teams to make it to the championship round before placing a bet on the MVP.

For example, Jayson Tatum is listed as the favorite to take home the first IST MVP trophy this year at even though his performance during the group stage was underwhelming by his standards (21.8 PPG).

However, he’s also the best player on the team projected as most likely to win the whole thing. These odds indicate that the selected MVP needs to help his team win the entire tournament more than anything else. Maybe it’s just the player who performed best in Las Vegas for the semifinals and championship. We just don’t know.

NBA In-Season Tournament Schedule

The first stage of the knockout round will be held on the higher-seeded team’s court in all four matchups. All four winning teams will play in the Semifinals in Las Vegas on Thursday, with the NBA In-Season Tournament Championship on Saturday.

Here’s a look at an outline of the NBA schedule from December 3 – December 10.

  • Saturday, December 2: 12 regular season games
  • Sunday, December 3: No NBA games
  • Monday, December 4: IST Quarterfinals
  • Tuesday, December 5: IST Quarterfinals
  • Wednesday, December 6: 11 regular season games
  • Thursday, December 7: IST Conference Semifinals 
  • Friday, December 8: 13 regular season games
  • Saturday, December 9: IST Championship
  • Sunday, December 10: No NBA games

NBA In-Season Tournament Rules

Much like the recently implemented NBA Play-In format, the structure of the IST will take some getting used to. We compiled the most important aspects of the tournament to know before placing any bets on the single elimination rounds.

Do the Knockout Round games count towards each team’s regular season records and statistics?

The first two rounds of the IST, the quarterfinals and semifinals, both count towards each team’s record and statistics. The championship game, however, will not count towards either a team’s regular season record or a player’s season-long stats.

Do the other 22 NBA teams play during the week of the IST?

Yes, on Wednesday, Dec. 6 and Friday, Dec. 8, each team will play two regular season games. There will be two matchups across conferences, but each team will play a team from its own conference at least once. On Friday, the four IST Quarterfinal losers will play a regular season game that counts towards their records as well.

Can you bet on the NBA In-Season Tournament Knockout Rounds?

U.S. sportsbooks are offering betting odds for each game of the tournament. Sports bettors can also find two futures markets for the Tournament Champion and Tournament MVP. The NBA will choose the MVP of the competition and select the five players for the All-Tournament team as well.

NBA In-Season Tournament Championship Favorites

Boston Celtics ()

After opening the season as favorites to win the first-ever IST championship, the Celtics needed a 27 drubbing of the Bulls to stay alive. Now, Boston needs a road win against the high-powered Pacers offense to continue on.

Milwaukee Bucks ()

The Bucks won all four games in the group stage, closing things out with a road win against the Heat. Milwaukee has already beaten New York at home once this season in a 110-105 affair on November 3. Despite their defensive woes for much of the early season, the Bucks find themselves just behind the Celtics at the top of the Eastern Conference heading into the final week of IST play.

Los Angeles Lakers ()

LeBron James and the Lakers were incredibly impressive during the IST group stage, racking up far and away the greatest point differential. Their +74 differential was 28 points greater than the second-highest total of the Milwaukee Bucks. James has said he is going all out in the IST to help his teammates win the $1 million that comes with the title. Up to this point, he has not disappointed, averaging 25.5 PPG, 8.0 RPG, and 7.5 APG in just 29 minutes a night.

Sacramento Kings ()

Sacramento and Golden State provided the most thrilling game of the IST with a 124-123 thriller that sent the Warriors home early on Tuesday. The win gave the Kings the top seed in the West as they welcome the Pelicans to Golden One Center for the Quarterfinals. Sac has already lost back-to-back games against New Orleans this year.