How Do NBA Playoffs Work?
The NBA Playoffs is arguably the most prestigious basketball tournament in the whole world. The NBA holds this elimination tournament on an annual basis. It is usually held in the second week of April and usually stretches until the second week of June.
This is the biggest stage of the NBA, and every player would love to step in and play here especially in the NBA Finals, where the top teams of each conference square off to see who deserves to win the NBA title. The tournament was first founded in 1946, and it has been a big hit ever since.
When the playoffs begin, all 16 teams that are qualified are set to battle in the best of seven games every round. All teams that are qualified here have been in the Eastern and Western Conference’s top eight seeds, with each spot putting up an advantage on home court depending on rankings.
How Does the NBA Playoffs Work?
The NBA allows only eight teams from each conference to play in a best of seven series, moving through three rounds to reach the Finals. The seeding is usually done in the season and will matter a lot in the closing games of the campaign. That sees the teams breaking down those ties in the standings and more.
Each conference has four divisions. Divisions do matter as long as it concerns the tie-breaks. The NBA has already removed the grant of allowing a division champion to automatically qualify for the playoffs. Each conference allows 8 teams out of 15 to join in the Playoffs. That leaves the eliminated teams eligible for the top spots in the draft lottery - unless their picks for that season has been traded.
The Playoffs usually begin by mid-April and will ensue until the second week of June, which should be the final game of the NBA Finals if necessary. The first round of playoffs lasts around two weeks if pushed to seven games. That puts the conference semifinals and finals by the whole month of May.
How Does Seeding Affects Home Court Advantage?
The home court advantage is given to the team with the highest record in the season. That means whichever team has a better record over the other gets to have the home court advantage. That played a big role in a playoff series through the years as teams with a better chance of winning at home thrived in these situations.
Back then, the league used the 2-3-2 format, which made it very crucial for the lower teams to try and steal a win from the higher team. Winning one of the first two meant that they were going to play the next three or four games with a bigger chance of winning at home.
However, the league adopted a new format starting in the 2016 NBA Playoffs. Games 1, 2, 5, and 7 will be hosted by the teams with the home court advantage, while the opposing team hosts games 3, 4, and 6. That makes it a 2-2-1-1-1 format instead, making it a fair fight as opposed to the 2-3-2 format. NBA team owners voted on this format in October 2013.
The first team to take advantage of that was the Cleveland Cavaliers led by LeBron James, who managed to overcome the home court advantage held by the Golden State Warriors as they went down 3-1 in the 2016 NBA Finals. That saw James and the Cavs winning the title in seven games, becoming the first team in the NBA Finals to come back from a 3-1 deficit.
How Can Teams Secure Home Court Advantage?
Taking the home court advantage requires teams to thrive in the regular season. The teams with the best record in the league earn it all the way to the NBA Finals. There are certain tie-breaks that are categorised depending on the teams that are tied for a single record.
First, a tie-break can be done with the season standings between the two teams. If two teams are tied for a single record, the team which won over the other in their games in the season will automatically win the tie-break. Teams in the same conference usually play three to four games against each other, while teams in different conferences play only two games per season.
Another tie-break encounter between teams in the same conference would be their division standings. Back then, a division champion would earn a playoff berth regardless of their record in the season. That changed along with the new playoff format in 2016, and that led to the use of division standings as a new basis for tie-breaks.
That means that the standings in the season still play a big role in setting the playoff positions. It is more likely that the tie-break will ensue on the bottom four teams in the playoffs.
Which Teams Have the Chance to Win?
Despite the differences in home court advantages and standings in the playoff mix, there is absolutely a fair chance for all to come up with the Larry O’Brien trophy by June. It is a matter of perspective on how teams will battle their way against the best teams in the league. There is a lot to consider when it comes to those chances, such as their season meetings and player health.
The playoff seeding might give a slight advantage in terms of the home court advantage, but a team that is bent on winning the title can actually turn the tides at any given day. That means winning games on the road or beating the odds.
Words: Paul Daniel Flores