The Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy of the NBA Finals is by far the most prestigious tournament in the world of basketball. The NBA playoffs are a best-of-seven elimination competition held each year after the regular season of the National Basketball Association (NBA) to decide the league’s champion.
NBA Playoffs Format
The NBA announced substantial changes to the NBA playoff system in September 2015, which came into effect in the 2016 season. The playoff seeding and home-court advantage tie-breaker rules were also adjusted in the same year.
How Many Teams compete in the NBA Playoffs?
There are 30 teams in the NBA. These 30 teams are split into two conferences: East and West. The NBA Playoffs is featured with the top 16 teams, with the top eight teams competing from each conference.
Teams are seeded from 1 to 8 based on their records at each conference. The top teams in their conferences are the number 1 seeds in general; the number 2 seeds will be the second-best record, and so on.
The brackets will be set as the playoffs start; teams are never “reseeded” in comparison with the NFL (National Football League), where the best teams stay in the following rounds, the weaker teams are facing the best remaining teams in later rounds.
In the first round, all 16 teams would compete. Every conference’s top four teams would advance to the second round. The Conference Championships are then held for the two winning teams from each conference in the third round. Finally, the Conference Champions from the two conferences will then compete for the NBA Championship in the NBA Finals.
If two teams have the same results at the end of the season, the head-to-head results will decide which team receives the top seed.
If both teams have the same head-to-head record and one team is a division champion, and the other isn’t, the division champion will be seeded higher.
If the teams are from the same division, the win-loss record over other teams in their division will be used as the third tie-breaker.
However, if that does not settle the tie, the win-loss ratio against league opponents will be used to break the tie.
NBA Series and Home ground Advantage
Both conferences use the traditional bracket system for their playoffs. All rounds are played in a best-of-seven format. Series are played in the 2-2-1-1-1 format, where there is a rotation between courts in every series. The first two games are played at the higher seeds home court, giving the top team home-court advantage. The next 2 games are to be played at the lower seeds home court; the 5th game is played at the higher seeds home court, the next game at the lower seeds home court. In the final game, a higher seeding team will get the home-court advantage.
Criticism about the structure
The new system is most often criticized for conference parity. Eastern Conference teams with losing records have qualified for the playoffs on several occasions, while Western Conference teams with winning records have not qualified, including 2011, 2013, and 2015 NBA playoffs. Because of the league imbalance, weaker Eastern Conference teams at times advance farther in the playoffs.
2006 NBA playoffs controversy
The original playoff format, which was in effect during the 2004–05 and 2005–06 NBA playoffs after the NBA’s re-alignment into six divisions, sparked debate during the 2005–06 season and playoffs and would be revised before the 2006–07 NBA season.
Before 2005, regardless of their record, NBA division champions were seeded higher than the rest of their conference opponents. Until 2004, the division champions were ensured the top two seeds when the NBA was aligned in two conferences, each with two Divisions. Because of this rule, the top two teams in a conference (by record) would be seeded first and second (if they were in separate divisions) or first and third (if they were in the same division)
2020 NBA playoffs
The 2020 NBA playoffs were supposed to start on April 18 but were postponed due to the Covid-19 outbreak. The league suspended the season on March 11, 2020, just hours after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic and after some players tested positive for the virus.
On June 4, the NBA Board of Governors unanimously decided to resume the season in the NBA Bubble on July 31. Under this policy, the league’s top 22 teams at the time of the suspension played eight extra regular-season games to decide playoff seeding, with 16 of those teams competing in a traditional postseason tournament.
If a conference’s ninth seed ended the regular season within four games of the eighth seed, they would have played in a play-in series. It was back in 1956 when a play-in game was held to decide a playoff spot for the last time.
NBA Playoff Bracket 2021: Current format of NBA Playoffs
On November 17, 2020, the NBA announced its structure and format for the 2020-21 season, with the Board of Governors unanimously endorsing a plan for a one-year postseason playoff play-in tournament. This summer in Orlando, the NBA introduced a play-in series between the No. 8 and No. 9 seeds if the No. 9 seed came within four games of the No. 8 at the end of the regular season. Between the end of the regular season and the 1st round, the play-in competition will take place in 2020-21 and include teams in the Nos. 7-10 spots in each conference.
The playoff play-in format:
Each conference team with the seventh and eighth highest winning percentage has two chances of earning a playoff spot on winning one game.
To qualify for the playoffs, the teams with the ninth and tenth-highest winning percentages in each conference must win two straight games.
After the regular season, the seventh-highest winning team at the event will host the eighth highest winning team at the “Seven-Eight Game” to decide the No. 7 playoffs at the conference.
In a “Nine-Ten Game,” the team with the ninth-best winning percentage in each conference will host the team with the tenth-best winning percentage in the conference.
In a play-in tie, the “Seven-Eight Game” loser will host the winner of the “Nine-Ten Game.” The winner of that game will be the conference’s No. 8 seed in the playoffs.
The NBA Playoffs bring a year’s worth of basketball to a close. The Playoffs are unlike any other sporting event, and they will prove to be the most entertaining event on television for many years to come.
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