The Atlanta Hawks are staying afloat in the new NBA In-Season Tournament

The in-season tournament ends on December 9th with a championship game in Las Vegas. Each conference has three groups of five teams -- Each team plays a four-game group stage in November, with the group winners advancing to the knockout rounds. (Marlon Hyde/WABE)

The Atlanta Hawks will play their third game of the NBA’s in-season tournament Tuesday night in Atlanta against Indiana. It’s an important game for the Hawks, which is not usual for this early in the season. However, that’s why the NBA started the in-season tournament this year.

The Hawks are 1-1 so far. They currently sit third in their group, including the Indiana Pacers, Philadelphia 76ers, Cleveland Cavaliers and Detroit Pistons. Fans and players gathered in the State Farm Arena on Nov. 17 to watch the Hawks play against the Philadelphia 76ers in their first home game of the special tournament.

“I feel like the players are competing harder,” said Hawks fan Schylar Harding. “And I think they’re really putting on a better show for the fans.”

The Atlanta-based team, who play on brightly colored courts with special jerseys for tournament games, were prepared to face their opponents and hopefully take home a win.

Atlanta Hawks players are warming up on their new blue in-season tournament court. Every home team gets a special court during tournament nights. (Marlon Hyde/WABE)

The new tournament is similar to that of soccer leagues around the world, where teams compete against each other in groups, and then the best of the group stage move on to the knockout rounds.

Bankhead’s own Young Dro, whose real name is D’Juan Montrel Hart, performed at halftime.

“The culture of hip hop and basketball just goes hand in hand. And it just excites me to be able to be a part of that mixture and, you know, also be from the city,” said the performer, adding that he wants the Hawks to take home the NBA Cup.

Bankhead rapper Young Dro performs with his son during the halftime of the Atlanta Hawks vs. Philadelphia 76ers at the NBA In -Season Tournament on Nov. 17, 2023. (Courtesy of Atlanta Hawks)

The NBA hopes this decision spices up the season by adding a new trophy and more opportunities for nationally televised games, which in turn opens up the possibility of selling the TV rights later down the line.

If a team does not qualify for the knockout round, they can still get in based on how many points they scored during these games. Although it is still a regular season game, coaches adjust their game plan to ensure they get the most points possible, even in a loss.

The winning team will hoist the new NBA Cup, and each player will receive half a million dollars. The championship game will be on Dec. 9 in Las Vegas.

Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young crosses over a defender sending him to the floor before hitting the jump shot. (Courtesy of Atlanta Hawks)

“I think the point differential is something we’ll continue to see. And particularly as we get further along in the tournament, particularly with respect to the wildcard situations,” said Atlanta Hawks Head Coach Quin Snyder.

“We got to win our next two games,” said Hawks Guard Trae Young after Friday’s loss to Philadelphia. “And thankfully, our next game is in the season tournament game, too. So hopefully, we got some energy.”