The inaugural in-season tournament is in the books with the Los Angeles Lakers winning the first-ever NBA Cup with their win over the Indiana Pacers on Saturday night. It was a good battle all night long between two future Hall of Famers in LeBron James and Anthony Davis and a rising star in Tyrese Haliburton.
With the in-season tournament in the books, now is the time to evaluate things and see where it can improve for years to come. The Philadelphia 76ers were unable to advance to the knockout rounds as they were eliminated in group play, but coach Nick Nurse was a fan of how things turned out for the league.
“I think they surely accomplished a lot of things that a tournament like that can accomplish,” Nurse stated. “I think just the awareness people had of it. I think the competitiveness of the games etc. I think everybody would agree that we’re probably up a notch or three, right? Especially, in the knockout phase.”
The knockout rounds were competitive and it was obvious that these games meant a bit more than an average game in November or December. Especially, after group play wrapped up and moved into the quarterfinals and then the final games in Las Vegas. The Lakers and the Pacers played their hearts out.
“I think you could see, the biggest thing was when the things that matter a little bit more, there’s a little more heartache and a little more joy, right?” Nurse added. “So and that certainly was the case. I think, especially with most of the teams playing either way.”
One of the bigger debates regarding the tournament is the point differential. Some of the players have a “respect the game” mentality when it comes to running out the clock and it makes sense. However, point differential was a big thing in deciding tiebreakers and such.
That’s why the Sixers had Joel Embiid launching 3-pointers at the buzzer even though the game was already decided. Nurse isn’t concerned about any of that.
“I feel fine about it, because I mean, I think that at all times, I don’t really care what the point differential is in any game,” Nurse stated. “I mean, I’m not trying to ever embarrass anybody or run up a score on purpose, but I think the players that are out there should be playing each possession. When you’re on defense, you’re trying to get a stop and when you’re on offense, you should try to get a bucket.”
Nurse has a point. If there is time on the clock, then teams should play it out until the final buzzer. It’s important for teams to keep playing no matter what the time and score is.
“That carries on to me,” Nurse added. “So I don’t ever get caught up and if I’m on the wrong end of one of those, we should do better. If we’re on the wrong end, we should do better. We should play it out. I think each possession has value for players no matter who’s out there. Even in the so-called garbage time when guys are running up and down. Those guys need to go out there and play because that’s some opportunity for them.”