2023 In-Season Tournament

In-Season Tournament: East Group B preview

The Bucks, Knicks, Heat, Wizards and Hornets are set to compete in East Group B during the In-Season Tournament.

Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks are in the same group as the Heat, who eliminated them in the first round.

East Group A | East Group B | East Group C | West Group A | West Group B | West Group C

This group is headlined by three playoff teams from 2023: No. 1 seed Milwaukee (eliminated by Miami in the first round), No. 5 seed New York (eliminated by Miami in Eastern Conference semifinals) and No. 8 seed Miami (winners of the Eastern Conference, lost in the NBA Finals in five games). Rounding out Group B are the Washington Wizards (who finished 35-47 in 2022-23) and Charlotte Hornets (who went 27-55).

In head-to-head competition between the teams in Group B, the Bucks posted the highest winning percentage in the group (.714), winning the season series with the Hornets (2-1), Knicks (3-0) and Wizards (3-1) while splitting with the Heat (2-2). New York finished second as it won each season series with the exception of being swept by Milwaukee.

East Group B

Team vs CHA vs MIA vs MIL vs NYK vs WAS TOTAL WIN%
Milwaukee Bucks 2-1 2-2 x 3-0 3-1 10-4 0.714
New York Knicks 2-1 3-1 0-3 x 3-1 8-6 0.571
Miami Heat 2-2 x 2-2 1-3 2-2 7-9 0.438
Washington Wizards 3-1 2-2 1-3 1-3 x 7-9 0.438
Charlotte Hornets x 2-2 1-2 1-2 1-3 5-9 0.357

Milwaukee Bucks

Brook Lopez and Khris Middleton re-sign with the Bucks, keeping the championship core together for Adrian Griffin's new coaching staff.

Despite finishing the regular season with the best record in the NBA, the Bucks were ousted in the first round of the playoffs by the Miami Heat. The Bucks lost Giannis Antetokounmpo for 2 ½ games of the series after a nasty fall left him with a lower back contusion. But even when Giannis returned for the final two games of the series, the Bucks had no answer for Jimmy Butler and the Heat’s blistering 3-point shooting.

The offseason saw the Bucks make a coaching change with Adrian Griffin replacing Mike Budenholzer. But their key roster moves were about continuity as Milwaukee re-signed free agents Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez to keep the core of the Bucks 2021 title team together. The Bucks also added Malik Beasley and Robin Lopez in free agency to help offset the losses of role players Jevon Carter, Joe Ingles and Wesley Matthews. As John Schuhmann notes in his offseason Eastern Conference Power Rankings, the Bucks have the second-best offense and top defense over the past five regular seasons, a sign that keeping the core of this team together could lead to success in Group Play.

Offseason Summary (as of July 31)

  • Players re-signed: Brook Lopez, Khris Middleton, Jae Crowder, AJ Green, Thanasis Antetokounmpo
  • Players added (via free agency): Malik Beasley, Robin Lopez
  • Players added (via trade): None
  • Players added (via 2023 NBA Draft): Andre Jackson Jr. (36th overall), Chris Livingston (58th overall)
  • Players lost: Jevon Carter (signed with Bulls), Joe Ingles (signed with Magic), Wesley Matthews (signed with Hawks)
  • Remaining free agents: Goran Dragic (UFA), Meyers Leonard (UFA)

New York Knicks

Jalen Brunson helped turn the Knicks’ fortunes around last season.

There was magic back at Madison Square Garden last season as Jalen Brunson proved to be one of the most impactful offseason acquisitions. Fueled by Brunson, the Knicks made a 10-win improvement during the 2022-23 regular season and won their first playoff series in a decade as they defeated Cleveland in the first round in five games before being ousted by Miami in six games in the conference semifinals.

The Knicks were rather quiet in the offseason, with their key move being the addition of Donte DiVincenzo in free agency as he joins his former Villanova teammates in Brunson and Josh Hart (a trade deadline acquisition, who opted into the final year of his contract). The Knicks also traded Obi Toppin to Indiana and saw Derrick Rose sign with Memphis, but the rest of the squad remains intact. The Knicks are ready to run it back in 2023-24 and that season-to-season continuity could make them dangerous in Group Play early in the season.

Offseason Summary (as of July 31)

  • Players re-signed: Josh Hart (opted in), Miles McBride (team option), Duane Washington Jr., Trevor Keels (two-way)
  • Players added (via free agency): Donte DiVincenzo
  • Players added (via trade): None
  • Players added (via 2023 NBA Draft): None
  • Players lost: Derrick Rose (signed with Grizzlies), Obi Toppin (traded to Pacers)
  • Remaining free agents: None

Miami Heat

Check out the best from Miami during the 2023 NBA Finals.

After losing their first game in the AT&T Play-In Tournament against Atlanta and having to rally in their second game against Chicago just to earn the No. 8 seed in the playoffs, the Miami Heat put together a magical run to the NBA Finals, reaching the championship series for the second time in four seasons. But once again, they came up short of capturing the franchise’s fourth NBA title.

The offseason saw a number of key players from that Finals run take their talents out of South Beach, including starters Max Strus (signed with Cleveland) and Gabe Vincent (signed with Lakers). The Heat re-signed Kevin Love and added Thomas Bryant and former Heat guard Josh Richardson (who spent his first four seasons in Miami) in free agency. The Heat will also welcome back Tyler Herro, who missed nearly all of Miami’s Finals run after suffering a fractured hand in the opening game of the playoffs.

Of course, there is a marquee player that has requested a trade and named the Heat as his top desired destination, but at this point, Damian Lillard is still a member of the Portland Trail Blazers as the buzz around a potential move has cooled in recent weeks.

Offseason Summary (as of July 31)

  • Players re-signed: Kevin Love, Orlando Robinson (two-way)
  • Players added (via free agency): Thomas Bryant, Josh Richardson
  • Players added (via trade): None
  • Players added (via 2023 NBA Draft): Jaime Jaquez Jr. (18th overall)
  • Players lost: Victor Oladipo (traded to Thunder), Max Strus (signed with Cavaliers), Gabe Vincent (signed with Lakers), Omer Yurtseven (signed with Jazz), Cody Zeller (signed with Pelicans), Udonis Haslem (retired)
  • Remaining free agents: Jamal Cain (RFA, two-way)

Washington Wizards

Jordan Poole discusses joining the Wizards and his expectations for next season.

For the second straight season, the Wizards finished with a 35-47 record and failed to make the playoffs or AT&T Play-In Tournament in the Eastern Conference. It was time for a change, and the Wizard did that by executing three major trades:

  • Sending Bradley Beal to Phoenix as part of a three-team deal that saw the Wizards acquire Chris Paul, Landry Shamet, Bilal Coulibaly, six second-round picks and four first-round pick swaps
  • Sending Kristaps Porzingis to Boston as part of a three-team deal that saw the Wizards acquire Tyus Jones, Danilo Gallinari, Mike Muscala and a second-round draft pick
  • Sending Chris Paul to the Warriors in exchange for Jordan Poole, Patrick Baldwin Jr., Ryan Rollins, a second-round pick and a protected first-round pick.

The Wizards did re-sign free agent Kyle Kuzma, but the majority of this roster is new to D.C. and it will be up to head coach Wes Unseld Jr. to fit all these pieces together quickly if the Wizards want to make some noise in Group Play. Can this Wizards team replicate Utah’s early success last season after trading a pair of All-Stars in Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert?

Offseason Summary (as of July 31)

  • Players re-signed: Kyle Kuzma
  • Players added (via free agency): None
  • Players added (via trade): Patrick Baldwin Jr. (from Warriors), Danilo Gallinari (from Celtics), Tyus Jones (traded to Wizards), Mike Muscala (from Celtics), Jordan Poole (from Warriors), Landry Shamet (from Suns), Ryan Rollins (from Warriors)
  • Players added (via 2023 NBA Draft): Bilal Coulibaly (7th overall), Tristan Vukcevic (42nd overall)
  • Players lost: Bradley Beal (traded to Suns), Jordan Goodwin (traded to Suns), Jay Huff (signed with Nuggets, two-way), Monte Morris (traded to Pistons), Chris Paul (traded to Warriors), Kristaps Porzingis (traded to Celtics)
  • Remaining free agents: Taj Gibson (UFA), Kendrick Nunn (UFA)

Charlotte Hornets

LaMelo Ball and Miles Bridges will be reunited on the floor with the Hornets this season.

With Sacramento making the playoffs last season, the longest active playoff drought now belongs to the Hornets, who saw their streak reach seven straight years without postseason play after finishing just 27-55 in 2022-23. The offseason brought an ownership change – with Michael Jordan’s 13-year run as majority owner coming to an end with a sale to a group led by Rick Schnall and Gabe Plotkin.

All-Star guard LaMelo Ball signed a five-year max extension after appearing in just 36 games last season due to injury. The Hornets will also see the return of Miles Bridges after he missed the entire 2022-23 season (and will miss the first 10 games of the 2023-24 season due to suspension).

Charlotte added four players in the draft, headlined by No. 2 pick Brandon Miller, who showed immense talent at Alabama, but struggled a bit during Summer League play. The Hornets have two free agents still unsigned – P.J. Washington (restricted) and Kelly Oubre Jr. (unrestricted). If the Hornets hope to make noise in Group Play, they will need Ball healthy and back to his All-Star level, a fast start from Miller and an immediate impact from Bridges once he returns to the lineup.

Offseason Summary (as of July 31)

  • Players re-signed: LaMelo Ball, Miles Bridges
  • Players added (via free agency): None
  • Players added (via trade): None
  • Players added (via 2023 NBA Draft): Brandon Miller (2nd overall), Nick Smith Jr. (27th overall), James Nnaji (31st overall), Amari Bailey (41st overall)
  • Players lost: Dennis Smith Jr. (signed with Nets)
  • Remaining free agents: P.J. Washington (RFA), Kelly Oubre Jr. (UFA), Svi Mykhailiuk (UFA), Theo Maledon (RFA, two-way)

Key matchups to watch

Below are a handful of intriguing matchups to be played out in East Group B, beginning with two key playoff rematches: Miami vs. Milwaukee and Miami vs. New York.

Heat vs. Bucks, Nov. 28
(7:30 p.m. ET, TNT)

The Heat pulled off just the sixth No. 8 over No. 1 upset in NBA Playoff history – and only the fourth since the First Round went to a best-of-seven in 2003. Miami’s 4-1 series win was the most lopsided of the six upsets:

How will the Bucks respond when they meet the Heat for the first time since that early playoff exit? Will Jimmy Butler conjure up some of his playoff magic in a first-round rematch after he averaged 37.6 ppg last April against Milwaukee?

Heat vs. Bucks, Nov. 24
(7:30 ET, ESPN)

After the Heat took out the Bucks, they met their longtime foes from New York as the two teams rekindled a rivalry that burned bright during the late 1990s and early 2000s. While the Knicks won the regular-season series 3-1 (including two Knicks wins decided by two points each), it was the Heat that prevailed in the playoffs with a 4-2 series win despite a strong series from Brunson, who averaged 31 points and six assists for New York.

In addition to these playoff rematches, nearly a third of the games played between teams in East Group B during the regular season were decided by five points or less (12 out of 37 total games), including three that went to overtime.

Miami was involved in seven of these tightly contested games, followed by Charlotte (six), Washington (five) and New York (five). Milwaukee was the only team that avoided close games within this group, with only one game decided by five points or less – a win over the Knicks in New York.

Heat vs. Hornets, Nov. 14
(7 ET, NBA League Pass)

Last season, three of the four games played between the Heat and Hornets were decided by five points, including one that went to overtime on Nov. 10 in Miami, when the Heat blew a 15-point second-half lead only to recover late to force overtime and win it in the extra five minutes.

The other two games were won by the Hornets in Charlotte – the first on Jan. 29 featured a combined 58 points from Terry Rozier (31) and P.J. Washington (27) as well as a big fourth quarter from LaMelo Ball (13 of his 19 points came in the final frame). The second win came nearly a month later on Feb. 25 as rookie center Mark Williams posted 18 points and 20 rebounds, and the Hornets had six players score at least 14 points to offset the combined 51 points from Tyler Herro (33) and Jimmy Butler (28).

Heat vs. Wizards, Nov. 3
(8 ET, NBA League Pass)

The Heat had close games with every team in the group as Miami and Washington split a pair of games decided by three points or less last season in the span of a week. The first game on Nov. 18 in Washington saw Kuzma hit a 3-pointer to force overtime, then hit the game-winning throw in the extra session. However, the Wizards were led in this game by 27 points from Beal and 20 from Porzingis, two players that won’t be in this matchup in 2023-24. The second matchup on Nov. 25 saw Bam Adebayo dominate with a season-high 38 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Heat to a three-point win despite 28 apiece from Kuzma and Beal.

Wizards vs. Hornets, Nov. 10
(7 ET, NBA League Pass)

In the span of two weeks, the Wizards and Hornets split a pair of games decided by four points or less, with the home team winning each game. On Nov. 20 in Washington, Kuzma finished with 28 points, 10 rebounds and five assists to lead the Wizards to  106-102 win. On Dec. 2 in Charlotte, the Hornets led from the opening minutes of the first quarter, built a 22-point lead, then allowed a furious Wizards rally cut the lead to a single point, but ultimately held on for the 117-116 win as Rozier (25), Oubre (22) and Washington (21) each scored 20 or more.

Knicks vs. Hornets, Nov. 28
(7:30 ET, NBA League Pass)

In just the fourth game of the season for both teams on Oct 26 in New York, the Knicks edged out the Hornets for a 134-131 overtime win behind Brunson’s 27 points, 13 assists, seven rebounds, and go-ahead 3-pointer in overtime to put the Knicks up for good. This was an early breakout game for Brunson in New York as he led the Knicks to a third straight home win that had the Garden buzzing.

Knicks vs. Bucks, Nov. 3
(7:30 ET, ESPN)

As mentioned earlier, Milwaukee had only one game decided by five points or less against the other four teams in East Group B last season, and that came against the Knicks on Jan. 9 in New York. Despite a 44-point night from Brunson, the Bucks were able to rally back from a 17-point third-quarter deficit to get the win. Giannis led seven Bucks in double figures with 22 points, while adding 10 rebounds and five assists.


Milwaukee wins the group, New York and Miami in the wild card hunt

The Bucks will be returning with much of their core surrounding Giannis Antetokounmpo.

When looking for the favorites in East Group B, it is hard to look past the Milwaukee Bucks, who return the key members from last year’s team that not only finished with the top record in head-to-head matchups between the five teams in this group, but also finished with the top record in the entire NBA.

While the Bucks will have a new voice on the bench in Griffin, keeping the top four from the 2021 champion squad together – Giannis, Middleton, Lopez and Jrue Holiday – the Bucks enter the 2023-24 as not just Group B favorites, but among the top NBA title contenders as well.

The Knicks made a 10-win improvement last season after the addition of Brunson. What will they do this season after bringing nearly their entire roster back for another run? And, we can’t forget about the defending Eastern Conference champion Heat. While Miami lost a few key players from last year’s Finals run, it does get back a healthy Tyler Herro and there is the possibility of a big move in the weeks and months leading to training camp.