The NBA has changed its playoff format to ensure that the top eight teams by record advance to the postseason. Under the new rules, playoff seeding will be determined by regular season record only. The old playoff format guaranteed a top four playoff seed to the division winners in each conference, no matter their overall record.

 

The Association has come under fire in recent years for not rewarding the most successful teams with home court advantage and for creating less entertaining playoff series. Last season, the Portland Trail Blazers (51-31) were awarded the fourth seed in the western conference playoffs because they won the Northwest Division. They received home court advantage over the fifth seeded Memphis Grizzlies (55-27). Portland should have been the sixth seed, as San Antonio also won more games than the Trail Blazers. The matchup shuffle created by awarding higher seeds to division winners can alter the course of the playoffs as well as the legacies of teams, players, and coaches.

 

 

Many fans and members of the media would like to see the NBA do away with divisions and conferences entirely and let the top 16 teams enter a playoff tournament to determine a champion. Since 2000, the western conference has dominated its eastern counterpart in head-to-head matchups. Western conference teams have won greater than 55 percent of their games against eastern conference teams 12 times in the last 14 years. Just last season. two teams with losing records — the Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets — made the eastern conference playoffs. In the west, the Oklahoma City Thunder were eight games over .500 but still missed out on the postseason.

 

“Our owners are intent on making the playoff seeding more fair for all teams going forward and in quickening the pace of the end of games,” said Stu Jackson, the NBA’s executive Vice President of Basketball Operations. The rule change will be implemented immediately for the 2015-2016 NBA season.

 

Do you agree with the new NBA playoff rules? Should they abolish the conferences as well? Feel free to leave a comment or find me on twitter @Andrew_Morse4