News: NBA ends playoff favours for divisional champions

Updated: September 9, 2015

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In a decision that virtually renders the NBA’s divisional structure irrelevant (but is a win for common sense), the NBA’s Competition Committee has approved changes to playoff seeding and qualification procedures in time for the 2015-16 season. Seeding for the playoffs will now solely be based on a team’s record. Division winners will no longer get preferential treatment by getting a top-four seed and home-court advantage in the first round.

A media release from the NBA stated that: “As part of the modifications, the eight playoff teams in each conference will be seeded in order of their regular-season record. Most recently, every division winner was guaranteed a top four seed in its respective conference regardless of its record but did not receive home-court advantage if its playoff opponent had a better record. The Board also approved changes to tiebreak criteria for playoff seeding and home-court advantage.

“Head-to-head results have become the first criterion to break ties for playoff seeding and home-court advantage between two teams with identical regular-season records; the second criterion is whether a team won its division. Under the old tiebreak system, a division winner was awarded the higher seed and received home-court advantage in a series if the two teams met in the playoffs.”

This decision corrects an anomaly that allowed teams with more wins to be seeded lower due to a division winner. This occurred in last season’s playoffs with the San Antonio Spurs. The-then defending champs won 55 games but were seeded behind the 51-win Portland Trail Blazers due to the fact they were Northwest Division champs. Official pre-season games kick-off on October 2 with the season proper commencing on October 27.


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