The schedule Friday gave us the second night of In-Season Tournament group-play games. For a lot of NBA teams, though, it gave them their first exposure to the concept. Here are some players’ and coaches’ initial thoughts about their debuts this week or last:
LeBron James, Lakers: It feels great because it’s an In-Season Tournament win. And we’ll take that, we’ll take that for sure. There’s $500,000 [per player prize money] on the line – so we’re goin’ for that. We’re goin’ for that.
Luka Doncic, Mavericks: Every game matters, especially in the In-Season Tournament. … You’ve got to win every game possible.
Keegan Murray, Kings: The games are competitive early on. We’re in week 2 or 3 and we already have kind of a playoff-like atmosphere.
Stephen Curry, Warriors: A lot of competitiveness. I think everybody is trying to get off to a good start during the year with the In-Season Tournament vibe, the court change and all that added a little energy to it.
Draymond Green, Warriors: We talk about this In-Season Tournament, and it’s a playoff game. It was a fun game to play in. The intensity level was there. So, job well done to the NBA.
Tyrese Haliburton, Pacers: I thought it was fire. I loved the [court] color. It feels like I’m in [NBA] 2K out there.
Jalen Suggs, Magic: It really feels like we’re playing in the [soccer] Champions League.
Duncan Robinson, Heat: It’s big [to start 1-0]. No one in the history of the In-Season Tournament has ever lost their first game and won the tournament. So it was huge to get that first one.
Jaylen Brown, Celtics: I wouldn’t choose the word excited, but ready. … If there’s basketball to be played, our group will be ready.”
Coach Steve Clifford, Hornets: For our fan base and everybody, it’s not part of what we are used to, where again, if you watch European soccer, it’s a big part of what they do. So our guys, a lot of the reason these guys are here is because they are the best competitors and it’s another opportunity to compete. And I do think the single-elimination thing can be an exciting dynamic as people get used to it.
Coach Gregg Popovich, Spurs: I think the fans are the ones that are more excited than we are. It gives them a lot of things to talk about. It’s kind of a portent of maybe who’s going to be there at the end of the year, and they can talk about that. I think it will be a heightened competitive environment amongst the players for sure.
Coach Mike Brown, Kings: I think it’s kind of neat, y’know? … I’m excited that I’m able to be a part of the NBA to experience something new like this. We talked to our guys about it, we talked to them about the point differential [as tiebreaker]. We were getting our heads smashed in in Houston, they held the ball at the end of the game and took a shot-clock violation. Well, when it comes to the in-season tournament, you can’t do that. On either side, if you’re up or you’re down.
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