Eastern Conference (NBA)
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|League||National Basketball Association|
|Formerly||Eastern Division (1946–1970)|
|No. of teams||15|
|Most recent Eastern Conference champion(s)||Cleveland Cavaliers
|Most Eastern Conference titles||Boston Celtics (21 titles)|
The Eastern Conference of the National Basketball Association is made up of 15 teams, organized in three divisions of five teams each.
The three division winners and the non-division winner with the best record are seeded 1 through 4 for the playoffs in order of their records, with all remaining non-division winners seeded 5 through 8. This leaves open the possibility that a #2 or #3 seed could be a non-division winner. Home-court advantage in a playoff series is decided by record, not by seeding, so if the #4 and #5 teams meet in a playoff series in which the #5 team has the better record, the #5 team would have home-court advantage.
The reasoning behind this seeding arrangement is that a non-division winner could have a better record than the winners of the two divisions other than the non-division winning team in question. If the three division winners were seeded 1 through 3 for the playoffs in order of their records, and all non-division winners seeded 4 through 8, it would be possible for the two best teams of the conference to meet in the Conference Semifinals. This actually happened in the 2006 NBA Playoffs when the two best teams in the Western Conference, the San Antonio Spurs and the Dallas Mavericks, both from the Southwest Division, faced one another in the Western Conference Semifinals while the 3rd seed, the Northwest Division-leading Denver Nuggets, had fewer wins than the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th seeds.The NBA proposed and approved of the current format to ensure that the best two teams of a conference can meet no earlier than the Conference Finals.
The Eastern Conference playoffs are divided into two preliminary rounds followed by the Eastern Conference Finals, with the winner of the Conference Championship facing the Western Conference champion in the NBA Finals to determine the champion. All playoff series are best-of-seven.
The current divisional alignment was adopted at the start of the 2004–05 season, when the now Charlotte Hornets began play as the NBA's 30th franchise. This necessitated the move of the New Orleans Pelicans from the Eastern Conference's Central Division to the newly created Southwest Division of the Western Conference
|1||Cleveland Cavaliers *||14||5||.737||–||19|
|2||Toronto Raptors *||14||7||.667||1.0||21|
|5||Chicago Bulls *||11||9||.550||3.5||20|
|6||New York Knicks||11||9||.550||3.5||20|
- z – Clinched home court advantage for the entire playoffs
- c – Clinched home court advantage for the conference playoffs
- y – Clinched division title
- x – Clinched playoff spot
- * – Division leader
- o – Eliminated from playoff contention
- denotes an expansion team.
- denotes a team that merged from the American Basketball Association (ABA).
- * denotes a team that merged from the National Basketball league
|Denotes team that currently in the conference|
|Denotes team that has left the conference|
Eastern Conference champions
- Eastern Conference was named Eastern Division until 1970
|Bold||Winning team of the BAA Finals or NBA Finals|
|^||Had or tied for the best regular season record for that season|
List of Eastern Conference teams with the most conference championships
- 21: Boston Celtics
- 9: Philadelphia 76ers – Syracuse Nationals
- 8: New York Knicks
- 6: Chicago Bulls
- 5: Detroit Pistons
- 5: Miami Heat
- 4: Washington/Baltimore Bullets
- 3: Cleveland Cavaliers
- 3: Philadelphia Warriors
- 2: New Jersey Nets
- 2: Orlando Magic
- 1: Indiana Pacers
- 1: Washington Capitols
|^||Denotes team that won the NBA Finals|
|+||Denotes team that won the Conference Finals, but lost the NBA Finals|
|*||Denotes team that qualified for the NBA Playoffs|