Everything You Need to Know About the NBA Playoffs:
This article clarifies the playoff round rules that are followed in the seeding and the formats used in NBA. This tournament follows many different regulations, which makes it hard for people like us to understand.
Number of Teams and Their Seeding
There are sixteen teams in total in the NBA. The 8 best teams from both East and West are preceded to the NBA playoffs. There are different ways of how each team obtains the seeds.
The seeding of any team is based on the team's record. For this purpose, the team's history needs to be examined to place them in the seeds accordingly. The team with the best record gets on No. 1 seed, and worst receives the No. 8 seed.
In case two teams carry the same record as a tie, the group which gets the better seed will be decided through the head-to-head record. When two teams end a tournament and hold the same record, this head-to-head record will analyze the team that got the highest seed. If the record is still the same, further analysis is done.
If one side is a division champion while the other is not, then the higher seed is awarded to the division champion team. The third tiebreaker is if both teams lie under the same division, the last technique is used.
In an exceptional case, no method is of use to determine the team's record. The final decision is based on a win-loss percentage against conference teams.
Best of Seven Series
The best of seven series is the format that every team follows by playing a match seven times with the same opponent until a decision is made by 4:3 ratios. After that, they may proceed to the next round.
This playoff also follows a home/away format of 2-2-1-1-1. So, if a team has a better seed, they host the game 1, 2, 5, and 7 at home, while the opponent hosts 3, 4, and 6 if needed. This formation is described in more detail in the next part.
The playoff is planned in such a way:
No. 1 seed play against No. 8 seed.
No. 2 seed play against No. 7 seed.
No. 3 seed play against No. 6 seed.
No. 4 seed play against No. 5 seed.
After following the seven series format, the winner then proceeds to the next round called 'conference semi-finals.' This round's winner advances to the third round, known as 'conference final.' The winner of all of these conferences then reaches to NBA finals to get the title. The best team from East versus the best team from the West for the finals it is then.
Concept of Home Court Advantage in the NBA Playoffs
The terminology "Home Court Advantage" pertains to basketball and is a term used explicitly during the playoffs. It intends to determine the team that will get a chance to play first at home. In the 2018 and 2019 NBA Playoffs, this was the format of teams who got to play home in each game:
The first 2 games at home for the team with the home-court advantage.
The next two games distant from the team with home-court advantage.
One game at home for the team with home with home-court advantage.
One game away for the team with home-court advantage.
The final match (game 7) at home for the team with home-court advantage.
The team with home-court advantage will be subject to the first 2 games of the entire series and the final match. This formal is often referred to as 2-2-1-1-1 by a few.
Number of Games in the NBA Playoff
The whole of NBA Playoffs is categorized into four rounds, including the Finale. Each round requires every team to match and play a series of Best-of-7, which means that the first team to score four wins will automatically proceed to the next round. Contrariwise, the losing team will be knocked out of the series and go home.
In the first round, all the conferences have 4 matchups. This means that the entire playoff has an 8-match up and is more commonly known as a series. The first-round features 32 games at a minimum if every series go to a sweep.
If every match accounts to game 7, there will be 56 games. The winner of the game 7 will be declared the winner of the series. If one team wins all the games in a series without letting the opponent team win, that entire series is called "a sweep."
The second round now contains the 8 squads remaining who then play another best-of-7 series with their individual matchups. The second round, which is the semi-finals, features 16 games at a minimum and 28 games at maximum.
The second round is then followed by a third-round, also called the Conference Finals. This round allows the 2 final teams to duke it out. The team who wins the Conference Finals precedes the last and final round, the NBA Finals - the pinnacle of basketball.
If all the games during the NBA Playoffs go to a sweep, there will be 60 games played in total. If each series goes to a game 7, there will be 105 games played in full.
Duration of these Playoffs
This is a massive event in the history of game events. Every year, more and more people are attracted to it and show their interest each year, making it 'the longer, the better' game. NBA continues for more than 2 months. It starts in April, with the finals held in June, and ends after the second week of June.
However, some people find it annoying because of how long this event goes on and feel this duration needs to be fixed. This is understandable as some people prioritize less time-consuming games.
Changes in the NBA Format
The latest noteworthy change in the formal for NBA Playoffs was observed in 2005, with an entire heap of changes coming in years before that since the NBA originated. As a critical factor of the NBA, it rests assured that a particular season will end with the playoffs. However, the format of the tournament is likely to change.
The 2020 NBA Playoffs
Since the COVID-19 pandemic has taken over the world, everything in the world is somehow postponed, and the NBA playoffs are no exception. The 2019-2020 season was initially scheduled to begin in the second week of April. Since this pandemic happened, it was announced in March that the NBA this year will be postponed. The number of NBA players was also tested positive from this virus, after which the management's decision was taken.
However, in the first week of June, another decision was made to begin the event from July 31, 2020. A proposal was presented to the members of the NBA, which proposed that the top 22 teams in the league will play eight additional regular matches for seeding to be decided. 16 from these teams will then proceed to play postseason events.
This proposal was then approved by the NBA management on June 5, 2020. The Los Angeles Lakers made it to the playoffs for the first time in 7 years. In contrast, the Milwaukee Bucks initially qualified for NBA 2020 playoffs. To all those waiting for this historical event to start just after a few days, the 2020 NBA will begin from July 31 following their recent decision.
Four Potential Team Formation Formats for 2020
The NBA is gradually heading towards the starting the season. It was reported that the NBA has set July 31, 2020, as the start date for commencing this year's NBA. This definitely does not mean that a unanimous decision has been formed on how the league should precede.
According to the Board of Governors, four potential formals have been considered for a viable completed season in Orlando. The plans for the number of teams to be included are listed as follows:
This particular format would kick off into the postseason by securing the latest standings in place. This would reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus infection as it would confine the number of squads.
However, this 16-team format would mean excluding the Western Conference teams. They were highly likely to reach the playoffs before the coronavirus pandemic, which ultimately led to shutting down the season.
If the league introduces four more teams, it would be like holding a World-Cup approach group stage. This format would categorize the players into groups of five, based on the normal-season records.
Every team would be playing against the opponent team two times, with the top 2 teams progressing towards the final 8 or the top 4 teams progressing towards the second group stage.
The 4 non-playoff squads to be welcomed would be the 4 Western Conference teams, namely: Portland Trail Blazers, New Orleans Pelicans, San Antonio Spurs, and Sacramento Kings.
A 22-Team format would mean introducing six additional teams to Orlando, which makes way for a play-in-tournament. As per ESPN's Ramona Shelburne, this style under discussion would suggest including all the units within six games. This includes the Blazers, Pelicans, Phoenix Suns, Kings, Spurs, and Washington Wizards.
If the two No. 8 seeds were also a part of each conference (Orlando Magic and Memphis Grizzlies), the NBA could create eight teams. This could be possible with either a short series or a one-elimination format.
A unique 22 team formation would start normal-season games progressing to a play-in tournament, along with matches to decide playoff seeding. The Ringer's Kevin O' Connor believes that this condensed season is likely to include eight games per team.
The last formation would be to possibly include 30 teams in the NBA Playoffs. If the NBA brings the entire league to Orlando, it will mean hosting a 72-game regular season (an estimated 7 to 10 more games for each team) before hosting a play-in-tournament. The benefit of doing this would mean allowing each team beyond seventy games.
Advantages and Disadvantages of These Formats
These four potential formats each come with their set of advantages and critics. The fewer teams who venture to Orlando, the safer it is likely to be. Still, it would disappoint a significant number of players. According to a recent survey, a league wide play-in tournament was favored over a prospective World Cup approach group stage.
This ultimately brings forth a high risk of a likely mark in the fan's eyes because of its separation from the standard playoff structure. While all the thirty teams may be looking forward to being a part of these meaningful games, the concluding format may take longer than usual to be favorable and in effect. As mentioned before, the NBA has set July 31, 2020, as its return date.
If it wishes to sustain its usual best-of-7 series postseason structure, it really needs to apportion at least 2 months for the playoffs. Including all of the new normal-season games may prove costly in terms of league time, which it does not have. Players require numerous months for off-season games, so extending the 2019-2020 season would extend the 2020-2021 campaign.
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