NBA playoffs

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from NBA Playoffs)
Jump to: navigation, search

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.

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]

  • 1947: The playoffs were instituted with a three-stage tournament, similar to the Stanley Cup playoffs of the 1930s; the two first-placed teams qualified directly to the semifinals where they played each other in a best-of-7 series. Teams finishing second & third qualified for the best-of-3 quarterfinals, where the two second-placed teams were paired in one quarterfinal, as were the two third-placed teams. The two winners in the quarterfinals played each other in the other semifinals, however, the second semi-final was only a best-of-3 series. The two semifinal winners played each other in the Basketball Association of America (BAA) best-of-7 finals series.
  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     
      
  • 1949: The playoffs were expanded to eight teams, thus the first-placed teams no longer received first round byes. The top four teams from each of the two divisions qualified. The quarterfinals and semifinals were renamed division semifinals and division finals, respectively, and both rounds were best-of-3. The best-of-7 final was unchanged.
  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     
  • 1950: The BAA was renamed as the National Basketball Association (NBA). With a three-division setup, 12 teams now qualified for the playoffs, with the top four teams from each division meeting in the best-of-3 division semifinals. The winners met in the best-of-3 division finals. With three teams remaining, the surviving team with the best regular season record qualified directly for the finals while the other two teams met in a best-of-3 NBA semifinals.
  • 1951: With the NBA reverting to a two-division setup; the division semifinals reverted to its original 1949 format with only eight teams qualifying. The division finals was extended to a best-of-5 format.
  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     
  • 1954: The number of playoff teams was cut down to six. The division semifinals was changed to a double round-robin format within the division, with the top three teams from each division qualifying (each team played four games). Following the round-robin games, the top two teams qualified for the best-of-three division finals, followed by the best-of-seven finals.
  • 1955: The number of playoff teams remained at six, however, the round-robin format was dropped after one year. First-placed teams received a bye to the best-of-five division finals. Teams which placed second and third played a best-of-three division semifinal.
  • 1958: The division finals was extended to a best-of-seven format.
  • 1961: The division semifinals were extended to a best-of-five format.
  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     


  • 1967: The number of playoff teams was expanded to eight once more. The division semifinals now included the fourth-best team in each conference. The first-placed teams no longer received a bye. They were matched against the fourth-placed teams in the best-of-5 division semifinals.
  • 1968: The division semifinals was extended to a best-of-seven format.
  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     
  • 1970: With an increased number of teams, the divisions were upgraded into conferences, which were then split into two divisions. Eight teams still qualified, four from each conference. The two division winners were guaranteed at least a #2 seed, and the two best non-division winners from each conference qualified as third and fourth seeds. Hence, the division semifinals and division finals came to be known as conference semifinals and conference finals, respectively.
  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     
  • 1975: The number of playoff teams was expanded from eight to ten. A first round was introduced which matched the fourth and fifth seeds in each conference in a best-of-3 first round series, while the top three seeds received a bye. This is similar to the system used in the NFL from 1978 to 1989.
  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     
      
  • 1977: The number of playoff teams was expanded from 10 to 12. The first round now included the sixth best team in each conference, which was matched against the third seed. Only the division winners received byes to the next round. This is similar to the format currently used by the NFL.
  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*  
       
      
  • 1984: The playoffs were expanded from 12 teams to 16 teams. All teams now participated in the first round, which was extended to a best-of-five series.
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  
  • 2003: The first round was extended to a best-of-seven series. This change arguably benefitted the higher seeds as it reduced the likelihood of an upset by a lower seed. It also meant that a team that swept their series 4–0 might have to wait up to two weeks to play their next series against a team that had won 4–3.
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  
  • 2005: Each conference was realigned into three divisions with each division winner qualifying for a top-three seed regardless of record. The next best five teams from each conference also qualified for the playoffs.
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  
  • 2007: To address the criticisms of having each division champion guaranteed a top-three seed, regardless of record, the rules were changed such that the division winners are now only guaranteed a top-four seed. The best second-placed team in the division now may be seeded as high as two depending on its regular season record. This avoids the scenario of possibly having the two best teams in the conference seeded 1 and 4 if they play in the same division, thus being forced to play each other in the second round (given no upsets).
    • Note: In the example below, the East's #2 seed is not a division champion.
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]

  • Only five 8th seeded teams have managed to win a series versus the number 1 seeded team: The Denver Nuggets eliminated the Seattle SuperSonics 3–2 in 1994. The New York Knicks eliminated the Miami Heat 3–2 in 1999. The Golden State Warriors defeated the Dallas Mavericks 4–2 in the 2007 Western Conference First Round (becoming the first 8 seed to beat a 1 seed in the best of 7 format). In 2011, the Memphis Grizzlies beat the San Antonio Spurs, 4–2 and in 2012, the Philadelphia 76ers beat the Chicago Bulls 4–2.
  • The 1999 Knicks are the only 8th seeded team ever to reach the NBA finals.
  • The 1958–59 Minneapolis Lakers and the 1980–81 Houston Rockets are the only team with a losing record (33–39 and 40–42, respectively) to make it to the NBA finals. The other 1981 Western Conference Finalist, the Kansas City Kings, also had a 40–42 record
  • The 1994–95 Houston Rockets, a sixth seed with a record of 47–35, were the lowest seeded team to win the NBA finals. In the NBA finals, the Rockets swept the Orlando Magic (57–25) in four games. In doing so, the Rockets defeated four teams that had won 50 or more games during the regular season (Utah Jazz at 60–22, Phoenix Suns at 59–23, San Antonio Spurs at 62–20 and Orlando at 57–25), which had never been done before. They are also the only team to have won an NBA title without having home-court advantage in any round.
  • The San Antonio Spurs own the longest NBA playoff winning streak for a single postseason with 12 straight wins in the 1999 playoffs and a 15–2 finish overall. The Los Angeles Lakers own the most dominant post-season appearance with a 15-1 record in the 2001 playoffs; they also have the second-longest playoff-game win streak with 11 in that season.
  • Of all the teams with multiple NBA finals appearances, the Chicago Bulls are the only team to have never lost in the finals, winning 6.
  • The Boston Celtics possess the most overall NBA finals series wins with an overall record of 17–4. The Los Angeles/Minneapolis Lakers have played in the most NBA finals series (31) with an overall record of 16–15.
  • The longest playoff appearance streak currently belongs to the San Antonio Spurs with 16 consecutive appearances since 1997-98 season. The Dallas Mavericks managed 11 consecutive playoff appearances, before failing to qualify during the 2012-2013 season. The longest ever streak of playoffs appearances in a row belongs to the Syracuse Nationals/Philadelphia 76ers, who made the playoffs 22 straight years from the 1949–50 season to the 1970–71 season, while the longest playoff appearance streak in one city belonged to the Portland Trail Blazers, who made it for 21 straight years, from the 1982–83 to the 2002–03 seasons.

Playoff Appearances[edit]

Correct as of 2013–14 NBA Playoffs

Appearances by Team[edit]

Team Appearances
Los Angeles Lakers 60
Boston Celtics 51
Philadelphia 76ers 47
Atlanta Hawks 43
New York Knicks 42
San Antonio Spurs 42
Detroit Pistons 40
Chicago Bulls 33
Denver Nuggets 33
Indiana Pacers 31
Portland Trail Blazers 30
Phoenix Suns 29
Golden State Warriors 29
Sacramento Kings 29
Houston Rockets 28
Milwaukee Bucks 27
Oklahoma City Thunder 27
Washington Wizards 26
Brooklyn Nets 25
Utah Jazz 25
Dallas Mavericks 19
Cleveland Cavaliers 18
Miami Heat 18
Orlando Magic 14
New Orleans Pelicans 12
Los Angeles Clippers 10
Minnesota Timberwolves 8
Memphis Grizzlies 7
Toronto Raptors 6
Charlotte Bobcats 2

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]