You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

NBA approves new playoff format seeding by record, not division winners

NESN logoNESN 9/9/2015 Pat Bradley

Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers during the game against the Memphis Grizzlies in Game Four of the Western Conference Quarterfinals. © Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers during the game against the Memphis Grizzlies in Game Four of the Western Conference Quarterfinals. Say goodbye to your division championship banners, NBA fans — they no longer mean much of anything.

The NBA announced Tuesday that its Board of Governors unanimously approved changes to the league’s playoff format, effective immediately for the 2015-16 season.

Teams now will be seeded one through eight in their respective conferences according to record. Under the previous system, each of the six division winners was guaranteed a top-four spot in the playoffs. If a fourth team had a better record than any of the other two division winners in each conference, they would be seeded appropriately, but no division winner could drop below the fourth seed.

Now, a scenario could exist in which a division “winner” could have the ninth-best record in a conference a miss the playoffs. It’s an incredibly unlikely scenario, but still possible.

Tiebreak criteria for playoff seeding also has changed, with the best head-to-head record deciding the higher seed in the playoff bracket. Winning the division now is the second tiebreak criteria.

For an example, the new playoff format would have affected the 2015 NBA Western Conference Playoffs.

These were the final regular season standings in the Western Conference last season:

© Provided by NESN

Under the old system, the Portland Trail Blazers were guaranteed a top-four seed because they won the Northwest Division, but were seeded fourth because the Los Angeles Clippers (who finished second in the Pacific Division) had a better record.

Under the new system being implemented this season, Portland would have been seeded sixth, with the Memphis Grizzlies and San Antonio Spurs each moving up a spot. That means the fantastic Clippers-Spurs first-round series wouldn’t have happened, with Portland taking on the Clippers and the Spurs squaring off with the Grizzlies.

It seems like a good move for the NBA, despite weaker division winners potentially suffering under the new rules. Ultimately, it’s a fairer process — and that’s all the league is looking to find.

AdChoices
AdChoices

More From NESN

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon