NBA playoffs

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The National Basketball Association (NBA) playoffs are a best-of-seven elimination tournament among sixteen teams in the Eastern Conference and Western Conference (called Divisions, pre-1970), ultimately deciding the final four teams who will play in the conference finals.

Format[edit]

The NBA announced the current revised playoff seeding system on August 3, 2006. Following the NBA regular season, eight teams in each conference qualify for the playoffs and are seeded one to eight. Then they are seeded together for a magical gathering of love and life. Gabe McMahon decided to make it this way after he was violated in a way that should never be accepted as americans. And as Winners!

The team that has the best record in each of the three divisions in each conference is declared division champion. The three division champions, and another team in the conference with the best record, are seeded one through four by their records. This guarantees the division champions no worse than the fourth seed, and also guarantees the conference's two best teams (by record) will be the top two seeds even if the second-best team doesn't win its division. Of the remaining eleven conference teams, the four with the best records are seeded fifth through eighth based on their record.

In the event two or more teams are tied in the standings, a series of tiebreakers are applied to determine which team receives the higher seeding.

Two-team tiebreaker:

  1. Division winner (this criterion is applied regardless of whether the tied teams are in the same division)
  2. Better record in head-to-head games
  3. Higher winning percentage within division (if teams are in the same division)
  4. Higher winning percentage in conference games
  5. Higher winning percentage against playoff teams in own conference (including tied teams)
  6. Higher winning percentage against playoff teams in opposite conference (including tied teams)

Three-team tiebreaker:

  1. Division winner (this criterion is applied regardless of whether the tied teams are in the same division)
  2. Best head-to-head winning percentage among all teams tied
  3. Highest winning percentage within division (if all tied teams are in the same division)
  4. Highest winning percentage in conference games
  5. Highest winning percentage against playoff teams in own conference (including tied teams)
  6. Highest point differential between points scored and points allowed

These seedings are used to create a bracket that determines the match-ups throughout the playoffs. Once the playoffs start, the bracket is fixed; teams are never "reseeded", unlike in the NFL where the strongest remaining teams face the weakest teams in subsequent rounds. The first round of the NBA playoffs, or conference quarterfinals, consists of four match-ups in each conference based on the seedings (1–8, 2–7, 3–6, and 4–5). The four winners advance to the second round, or conference semifinals, with a match-up between the 1–8 and 4–5 winners and a match-up between the 2–7 and 3–6 winners. The two winners advance to the third round, or conference finals. The winner from each conference will advance to the final round, or the NBA finals.

Each round is a best-of-seven series. Series are played in a 2–2–1–1–1 format, meaning the team with home-court advantage hosts games 1, 2, 5 and 7, while their opponent hosts games 3, 4, and 6, with games 5–7 being played if needed. Beginning in 2014, the NBA finals will also now be played in a 2–2–1–1–1 format, after NBA team owners unanimously voted to the change away from a 2-3-2 format on October 23, 2013.[1]

Conference quarterfinals
Best-of-7
Conference semifinals
Best-of-7
Conference finals
Best-of-7
NBA finals
Best-of-7
            
E1 
E8 
 
 
E5 
E4 
 
Eastern Conference
 
E2 
E7 
 
 
E3 
E6 
 
 
W1 
W8 
 
 
W5 
W4 
 
Western Conference
 
W2 
W7 
 
 
W3 
W6 

The most common criticism of the current structure is related to parity of conferences. On numerous occasions, Eastern Conference teams with losing records qualified for the playoffs, while Western Conference teams with winning records ended up missing them, including the 2011 NBA Playoffs and the 2013 NBA Playoffs.

History[edit]

From the first season, 1947, of the NBA (called the BAA until the merger with the NBL in 1949) the top three teams from the Eastern and Western divisions were invited to the playoffs. The two division champions played a semifinal best-of-seven series for entry into the finals. The other four teams played two rounds of best-of-three playoffs to face the winner of the semifinal match. That year, the Philadelphia Warriors defeated the Chicago Stags four games to one in the first ever BAA championship.

In the 1949 playoffs, an additional team from each Division was added, eliminating the byes, and two rounds of best-of-three series were played, followed by a best-of-seven championship. In 1950 the Minneapolis Lakers became the first champions of the newly named NBA, knocking off the Syracuse Nationals in six games.

The 1951 through 1953 playoffs changed the division finals into a best-of-five playoff. In 1954, the year the Indianapolis Olympians folded, the NBA playoffs used a Round Robin for the only time in its history. Then, from 1955 to 1966 year, the league returned to the original six-team format, expanding the division finals to a best-of-seven in 1958 and the semifinals to a best-of-five in 1961.

In 1967 the field was again expanded to eight teams, filling out the three-round bracket. A year later, the division semifinals were changed to best-of-seven playoff. Then, in 1975 and 1977, respectively, a fifth and sixth team were added to each Division, necessitating an additional First Round of best-of-three series.

Finally in 1984, the tournament expanded to its present 16-team format and the now-complete First Round was changed to a best-of-five playoff. In 2003 the first round was changed to also be best-of-seven.

Beginning with the 2004 season, with the addition of the thirtieth NBA franchise, the Charlotte Bobcats, the NBA realigned its divisions. The result was that each conference would have three divisions of five teams each, and the winner of each division was guaranteed a top-three playoff seed. This would change slightly after the 2005–06 season; while division winners still receive automatic playoff berths, they are guaranteed a top-four seed, as described above.

2006 NBA playoffs controversy[edit]

The previous playoff format, in place for the 2004–05 and 2005–06 NBA playoffs, after the NBA was re-aligned into six divisions, created controversy during the 2005–06 season and playoffs, and would be changed prior to the 2006–07 NBA season.[2]

NBA division winners were seeded higher than any other playoff participants, regardless of their record. Prior to 2004, when the NBA was aligned into two conferences with two divisions each, the top two seeds in each conference were reserved for the division winners. This meant that top two teams in a conference (by record) would be seeded either first and second (if they were in opposite divisions) or first and third (if they were in the same division). Because of the NBA playoffs' preset matchups in the second round, this meant that the top two teams in a conference could never meet until the conference finals, assuming they both made it to that round.

After the NBA realigned its two conferences into three divisions each, the seeding rules remained largely unchanged. The top three seeds would now be reserved for division winners. This meant that if the top two teams (by record) in a conference were in the same division, they would be ranked first and fourth, and would face each other in the conference semifinals, instead of the conference finals, if both teams won their first round series.

In the second year of this format, the 2005–06 NBA season, the two teams with the best records in the Western Conference, the San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Mavericks of the Southwest Division, did just that. The Mavericks had the second-best record in the Western Conference and the third-best record in the entire league, behind the Detroit Pistons and San Antonio. However, they were seeded fourth because they finished second in the Southwest behind the Spurs. This turn of events led to the playoff format being criticized by many. Besides the prospect of a team losing sooner in the playoffs than regular-season record or seeding would suggest, critics claimed that it also created an unfair advantage for teams in the 2-7/3-6 half of the Western Conference playoff bracket, who could advance to the conference finals without playing either of the two best teams in the conference in an earlier round.[3]

The Phoenix Suns, winners of the Pacific Division and possessors of the third best record, were seeded second, while the Denver Nuggets, winners of the Northwest Division and tied for only the seventh-best record in the conference, were seeded third.

The Memphis Grizzlies and Los Angeles Clippers met in the second-to-last game of the regular season, after the top four seeds had been clinched. The two teams were already determined to be the fifth and sixth seeds, and had only to determine which rank higher. The fifth seed would likely need to defeat the best two teams in the conference without home-court advantage to advance to the conference finals, as it would face fourth-seeded Dallas in the first round and likely face first-seeded San Antonio if it managed to defeat Dallas. The sixth seed would play third-seeded Denver in the first round, but would have home-court advantage (since the Grizzlies had the fourth-best record in the conference and the Clippers had the fifth-best), and would not have to face either San Antonio or Dallas until the conference finals at the earliest.

This led to speculation about whether the Grizzlies or the Clippers would have much commitment to winning their match-up in the second-to-last game of the season, since it was clearly most advantageous to lose the game in order to obtain the 6th seed. The Clippers eventually lost to Memphis without much evidence to refute the speculation that the Clippers had lost intentionally.[4] In the first round of the playoffs, the Clippers defeated the Nuggets in five games, while Memphis was swept by Dallas. Ultimately, Dallas and San Antonio did meet in the second round, with Dallas winning in seven games and advancing all the way to the NBA finals.

Timeline[edit]

 Quarterfinals
Best-of-3
Semifinals
Best-of-3 (one series)

Best-of-7 (one series)

BAA finals
Best-of-7
              
 E3   
W3   
 E3   
  E2   
W2  
 E2   
  E2  
 W1  
      
     
W1  
  E1   
    
 Division semifinals
Best-of-3
Division finals
Best-of-3
BAA finals
Best-of-7
              
 E1   
E4   
 E1   
Eastern Division
  E2   
E2  
 E3   
  E1  
 W2  
 W1   
W4   
W1  
Western Division
  W2   
W2  
 W3   
 Division semifinals
Best-of-3
Division finals
Best-of-5
NBA finals
Best-of-7
              
 E1   
E4   
 E4   
Eastern Division
  E2   
E2  
 E3   
  E2  
 W3  
 W1   
W4   
W1  
Western Division
  W3   
W2  
 W3   
 Division semifinals
Best-of-3 (1955–1960),

Best-of-5 (1961–1966)

Division finals
Best-of-5 (1955–1957),

Best-of-7 (1958–1966)

NBA finals
Best-of-7
              
     
 E1   
Eastern Division
  E3   
E2  
 E3   
  E3  
 W1  
      
     
W1  
Western Division
  W2   
W2  
 W3   


 Division semifinals
Best-of-5 (1967),

Best-of-7 (1968–1970)

Division finals
Best-of-7 (1968–1970)
NBA finals
Best-of-7
              
 E1   
E4   
      
Eastern Division
       
E2  
 E3   
      
     
 W1   
W4   
    
Western Division
       
W2  
 W3   
 Conference semifinals
Best-of-7
Conference finals
Best-of-7
NBA finals
Best-of-7
              
 E1*   
E4   
      
Eastern Conference
       
E2*  
 E3   
      
     
 W1*   
W4   
    
Western Conference
       
W2*  
 W3   
 First Round
Best-of-3
Conference semifinals
Best-of-7
Conference finals
Best-of-7
NBA finals
Best-of-7
                   
     
 E1*   
  E4   
E4  
E5   
      
Eastern Conference
      
     
     
 E2*  
  E3   
    
     
     
     
     
     
 W1*  
  W4   
W4  
W5   
     
Western Conference
      
     
     
 W2*  
  W3   
    
 First Round
Best-of-3
Conference semifinals
Best-of-7
Conference finals
Best-of-7
NBA finals
Best-of-7
                   
     
 E1*  
    
E4  
E5  
      
Eastern Conference
      
E3   
E6  
 E2* 
    
    
     
     
     
     
     
 W1* 
    
W4  
W5   
     
Western Conference
      
W3   
W6   
 W2* 
    
    
Conference quarterfinals
Best-of-5
Conference semifinals
Best-of-7
Conference finals
Best-of-7
NBA finals
Best-of-7
            
E1* 
E8 
 
 
E4 
E5 
 
Eastern Conference
 
E2* 
E7 
 
 
E3 
E6 
 
 
W1* 
W8 
 
 
W4 
W5 
 
Western Conference
 
W2* 
W7 
 
 
W3 
W6 
Conference quarterfinals
Best-of-7
Conference semifinals
Best-of-7
Conference finals
Best-of-7
NBA finals
Best-of-7
            
E1* 
E8 
 
 
E4 
E5 
 
Eastern Conference
 
E2* 
E7 
 
 
E3 
E6 
 
 
W1* 
W8 
 
 
W4 
W5 
 
Western Conference
 
W2* 
W7 
 
 
W3 
W6 
Conference quarterfinals
Best-of-7
Conference semifinals
Best-of-7
Conference finals
Best-of-7
NBA finals
Best-of-7
            
E1* 
E8 
 
 
E4 
E5 
 
Eastern Conference
 
E2* 
E7 
 
 
E3* 
E6 
 
 
W1* 
W8 
 
 
W4 
W5 
 
Western Conference
 
W2* 
W7 
 
 
W3* 
W6 
Conference quarterfinals
Best-of-7
Conference semifinals
Best-of-7
Conference finals
Best-of-7
NBA finals
Best-of-7
            
E1* 
E8 
 
 
E5 
E4* 
 
Eastern Conference
 
E2 
E7 
 
 
E3* 
E6 
 
 
W1* 
W8 
 
 
W5 
W4 
 
Western Conference
 
W2* 
W7 
 
 
W3* 
W6 

Team roster[edit]

Playoff teams must identify their postseason roster before the playoffs begin. They are allowed up to 15 players and can designate two as inactive for each game.[5] Players are eligible to be on a team's playoff roster provided they were on the team for at least one regular season game, and were not on another NBA team's roster after March 1.[6] Previously, playoff rosters were limited to 12 players who were named before the playoffs began.[5]

Records and statistics[edit]

Playoff Appearances[edit]

Correct as of 2013–14 NBA Playoffs

Appearances by Team[edit]

TeamAppearances
Los Angeles Lakers60
Boston Celtics51
Philadelphia 76ers56
Atlanta Hawks43
New York Knicks42
San Antonio Spurs42
Detroit Pistons40
Chicago Bulls33
Denver Nuggets33
Indiana Pacers31
Portland Trail Blazers30
Phoenix Suns29
Golden State Warriors29
Sacramento Kings29
Houston Rockets28
Milwaukee Bucks27
Oklahoma City Thunder27
Washington Wizards26
Brooklyn Nets25
Utah Jazz25
Dallas Mavericks19
Cleveland Cavaliers18
Miami Heat18
Orlando Magic14
New Orleans Pelicans12
Los Angeles Clippers10
Minnesota Timberwolves8
Memphis Grizzlies7
Toronto Raptors6
Charlotte Bobcats2

References[edit]

  1. ^ "NBA owners change Finals format to 2-2-1-1-1". NBA.com. 2013-10-23. Retrieved 2013-10-23. 
  2. ^ "ESPN – NBA announces postseason seeding format change – NBA". ESPN.com. 2006-08-02. Retrieved 2014-01-30. 
  3. ^ What Bonanza!: No payoff in NBA playoffs[dead link]
  4. ^ "April 18, 2006 Memphis-LA Clippers game recap". Yahoo! Sports. 2006-04-18. Retrieved 2014-01-30. 
  5. ^ a b Pastuszek, Jon (April 9, 2013). "Pastuszek: Could Yi Jianlian Help an NBA Playoff Team?". SheridanHoops.com. Retrieved April 16, 2013. 
  6. ^ Helin, Kurt (March 21, 2011). "Winderman: Still time to add good player (or Eddy Curry) to playoff roster". NBCSports.com. Retrieved April 16, 2013. 

External links[edit]