The Dallas Mavericks earned their first-ever NBA In-Season Tournament win with a convincing 144-126 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers at the American Airlines Center on Friday night.
Luka Doncic led the way with 44 points on 17-of-21 shooting, and Kyrie Irving added 27 as Dallas had five players finish with at least 11 points after a shocking home loss to the Toronto Raptors earlier this week.
“I think it was a great bounce-back game,” head coach Jason Kidd told the media after the win. “… I thought the guys executed the game plan. Everybody participated, but Luka and Kai, those two set the tone tonight, and the guys followed.”
The game was Dallas‘ second of the tournament that kicked off its inaugural year last Friday. The tournament uses a similar format to what the professional soccer leagues deploy for their in-season tournaments.
“It’s new for everyone in the league,” Kidd said before Friday’s game. “It’s been done in soccer, so I think there’s excitement to see who’s going to make it to Vegas.”
The In-Season Tournament features all 30 NBA teams split into six groups (three in the Eastern Conference and three in the Western Conference) of five for the Group Stage. Each team will play four games during this stage on Tuesdays and Fridays in hopes of advancing to the “Knockout Rounds” and the semifinals and championship in Las Vegas.
The eight teams with the best records in group play will advance to the Knockouts, beginning on December 4. The teams that win the first Knockout matchups will go to the semifinals on December 7 and have a chance to reach the championship game on December 9.
Players on the teams that reach the Knockout stage will win $50,000 to $500,000 each, depending on how far their team advances.
The 22 teams that do not make the Knockouts will play regular-season games against each other as the tournament games count toward the 82-game regular season schedule.
The Mavericks are currently third in Group B of the Western Conference with a 1-1 tournament record but have played one more game than the rest of the teams, losing to the Denver Nuggets in Denver last week and beating the Clippers. Dallas will face New Orleans on the road in the tournament on Tuesday night and Houston at home on November 28 to conclude group play.