Will the other teams in East Group A care?
One of the biggest questions hanging over the first ever In-Season Tournament is whether anyone will care, which includes both the teams and the fans.
With little at stake other than the horribly named “NBA Cup” there isn’t much motivation for the good teams to really take this any more seriously than they would any other regular season game in November.
Philadelphia could likely still be dealing with the James Harden soap opera or the fallout from trading him, which could include trying to incorporate a bunch of new players onto their roster.
Atlanta also has a new coach and could be facing similar drama if they decide that the Trae Young, Dejounte Murray pairing is not working as planned. They also lost John Collins (not a huge deal) and will be trying to pick up that slack with rookies and past-their-prime veterans. You get a sense Atlanta is not yet a complete team or in their final form.
Indiana and Cleveland will both have something to prove as young teams on the come up, but I think you could argue that the Pistons will be the hungriest in their group, as they have the most to prove and the most to gain by winning, as they are the team least likely to make the playoffs next season.
I wouldn’t be shocked if Philly doesn’t take this seriously, and Detroit is not that far behind the other three teams so it’s at least conceivable they could get a win on a given night.
It’s still a long shot, but don’t rule the Pistons out of advancing out of Group A, as it’s probalby the weakest group, they have improved more than the other teams and might take it more seriously.