How the Warriors will approach the in-season tournament, which opens Friday vs. OKC

The Golden State Warriors’ In-Season Tournament kicks off Friday against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The NBA’s first in-season tournament begins on Friday across the league. The Warriors open the regular season tournament against the Thunder in Oklahoma City.

The tournament is the league’s attempt to add stakes to some of the earlier games in order to generate more competitive fire and interest in the regular season. There are some advantages to winning the NBA Championship: Each player on the winning team receives $500,000, a trophy, and a trip to Las Vegas for the semifinal and championship games during the regular season.

There’s a lot unknown about how teams will approach the tournament and whether its inclusion will help the NBA’s goal of increasing intensity in early-season games — teams should feel compelled to play all of their stars. The Warriors, on the other hand, will not face Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Oklahoma City’s All-Star guard who will sit out Friday due to a knee injury.

Draymond Green appears prominently in the NBA’s tournament television commercial, alongside stars such as Anthony Davis, DeMar DeRozan, and Trae Young. But are the Warriors truly committed to acquiring hardware that isn’t the Larry O’Brien? The Warriors’ approach to the preseason tournament is as follows.

The structure

All 30 NBA teams are divided into five groups of five for a group round that runs from November 3 to November 28. The Warriors are in the same division as the Sacramento Kings, Minnesota Timberwolves, San Antonio Spurs, and Oklahoma City Thunder. The teams’ records after one regular-season meeting — two on the road and two at home — will determine who advances to the knockout round.

The second game is against the Timberwolves at Chase Center on November 13, the third against the Spurs at home on November 24, and the final group-round game against the Kings in Sacramento on November 28.

If the Warriors have the best record in those four games, or if they qualify for one of the two wild-card spots, they will play a quarterfinal game on December 4 or 5, which will count toward their regular-season schedule. With a win, they advance to the NBA Cup semifinals in Las Vegas. The semifinal game will also count as a regular-season game, but the championship game will not count toward the final regular-season record of the two competing teams. The 22 teams that do not advance to the playoffs will play two regular-season games against yet-to-be-determined opponents.

The approach

Expect the Warriors to treat the in-season tournament games as if they were playoff games. There may be some extra excitement, but head coach Steve Kerr will not play any extra minutes in order for his core players to win.

“I wasn’t going to make a big deal about it until they told us that if we win, the coaching staff gets a big bonus.” So Steph’s going 48, and we’re set for the in-season tournament,” Kerr joked on Wednesday.

He also stated that he will proceed with his minutes strategy as if it were any other regular season game. Each of the four teams is in the Western Conference — all teams are divided into conference rivalry groups — so there will be some natural incentive to win in either direction.

“I played Steph 35 (minutes) against Sacramento because we needed it,” Kerr was quoted as saying. “So if the game is close or in the balance, he might play 35 that night, but I’m not treating it like a Finals game where he might play 42.” We have a back-to-back in Cleveland and Detroit two nights later, so we have to think big picture. But a few minutes more? Sure.”

The Warriors have made no mention of preparing differently for tournament games than for regular-season games.

“You don’t prepare any differently because it’s basketball.” “It’s a different game,” Andrew Wiggins explained. “I’m looking forward to it. The idea is that it will help keep things interesting and exciting while also expanding the game.”

Do the participants want to win?

The league is doing everything possible to distinguish tournament games from other games. To differentiate the regular season from the tournament game, each team will have a colorful court design. But is it enough to make the games feel different? Do the players want the NBA Cup?

“The only thing that really differs is the court,” Gary Payton II said. “All we care about is winning games.” The bigger picture is in June, so winning as many games as possible will help us. But they threw something in there to motivate us, but it just feels like another game to me.”

The fact that the semifinals will be held in Las Vegas is a strong incentive for players who want to take a midseason break. There is also some desire to win the inaugural tournament.

“You get paid for being the first team to win it.” “It’s fine,” said Wiggins. “It’s not a winnable goal, but you want to win.” It’s simply another game. You want to win every game you possibly can. It’s not like the season has been extended; it’s still part of the regular season, so you definitely want to win. Why not go for it if you can win the whole thing?”

“It’s going to be interesting,” Kerr added. I know we have court designs and such, but the atmosphere will be different. But, because we’ve never done anything like this before, we’re not sure what to expect. But, given the competitive nature of the players and coaches in this league, I believe they will want to win. The guys are going to go all out. I like it, and it has the potential to be a lot of fun, so I’m all in.”

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