NBA Playoffs: Wikis

  

Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.

Encyclopedia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

2007 NBA Playoff logo

The National Basketball Association (NBA) Playoffs is a best-of-seven elimination tournament between sixteen teams in the Eastern Conference and Western Conference (called Divisions, pre-1970), ultimately deciding the final four teams who will play in the NBA Conference Finals.

Contents

Format

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 champions, and the one other team in the conference with the best record are seeded one through four by their records. This guarantees that the division champions will be no lower than fourth seed, and also ensures that a conference's two best teams (by record) are ranked as the top two. Of the remaining eleven conference teams, the four with the best records are seeded fifth through eighth based on their records.

In the event that two teams end up tied for the same seed, the following tiebreakers are employed except if the one team that is not the division winner has the same overall record as a division winner and the tie breaker they still would get the lower seed as division championship acts as tie-breaker in this scenario:[1]

  1. Head-to-head
  2. Division record (if the teams are in the same division)
  3. Conference record
  4. Record vs. Playoff teams, own conference
  5. Record vs. Playoff teams, other conference
  6. Net points, all games

These seedings are used to create a bracket that determines the match-ups throughout the playoffs (unlike other leagues, such as the NHL, in which each round's match-ups are based on the seeds of the remaining teams). The first round of the 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.

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. The NBA Finals are played in a 2-3-2 format, meaning the team with home-court advantage hosts games 1, 2, 6 and 7, and their opponent hosts games 3, 4 and 5. The home-court advantage is determined in both rounds by record regardless of seed.

  First Round
Best-of-7
Conference Semifinals
Best-of-7
                 
      
      
        
      
    
      

Criticism

The NBA announced the current revised playoff seeding system on August 3, 2006. Some consider the current system to be flawed: If two teams who are not division winners have identical records, one can gain an inflated seeding by moving into the top four seeding based solely on tiebreakers.

An example of this criticism arose in the very first season with the new system. As of April 17, 2007 with one regular season game remaining, the Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers possessed identical 49-32 records, better than both the Toronto Raptors and Miami Heat who had already clinched their respective divisions. Due to favorable tie-breakers, Chicago would have been seeded second, while Cleveland would have been seeded no higher than fifth.

Under the previous seeding system, the division winners (Detroit, Toronto and Miami) would have earned the top three seeds, while Chicago and Cleveland would have earned the fourth and fifth seeds respectively.

On April 18, Cleveland won and Chicago lost their final regular season games. As a result, Cleveland finished with one more win earning them the second seed, while Chicago only managed the fifth seed despite finishing with the third-best record in the Eastern Conference.

The contrasting argument to this critique is that the second seeding does not afford a team home-court advantage in all of the four playoff rounds. Additionally, the fifth seed would play the weakest division winner in Miami, while the second seed would play a weak seventh seed. Were the teams seeded fourth and fifth, they would have played each other - meaning a stronger opponent for both teams than the one faced under the new system, allowing the two stronger teams to both advance (which they both did) to the second round. The criticism raised in 2006 (see below) was successfully addressed by the new system, as top-seeded Detroit ultimately faced and were defeated by second seeded (with the second-best record in the East) Cleveland in the Conference Finals.

The most common criticism is that the playoffs field too many teams. Over half of the teams make the playoffs, and teams with losing records qualify for the playoffs almost every year. Additionally, the first round pits the highest seeded team vs. the lowest seeded team, the 2nd highest seeded team vs. 2nd lowest seeded team, and so on, often creating for a boring and predictable first round. The 4 vs. 5 matchup is usually the only matchup where the lower seeded team has a good chance of winning. The only upside to this is when a lower seeded team wins, it is a massive upset.

History

  • 1947: The playoffs were instituted with a three-stage tournament; 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  New York 2  
W3  Cleveland 1  
  E3  New York 0  
    E2  Philadelphia 2  
W2  St. Louis 1
  E2  Philadelphia 2  
    E2  Philadelphia 4
  W1  Chicago 1
          
        
W1  Chicago 4
    E1  Washington 2  
      
  • 1949: The playoffs were expanded to 8 teams, thus the first-placed teams no longer received first round byes. The top 4 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  Washington 2  
E4  Philadelphia 0  
  E1  Washington 2  
Eastern Division
    E2  New York 1  
E2  New York 2
  E3  Baltimore 1  
    E1  Washington 2
  W2  Minneapolis 4
  W1  Rochester 2  
W4  St. Louis 0  
W1  Rochester 0
Western Division
    W2  Minneapolis 2  
W2  Minneapolis 2
  W3  Chicago 0  
  • 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 4 teams from each division meeting in the best-of 3 Division Semifinals. The winners met in the best-of-3 Division Finals. With 3 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 8 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     
          
Eastern Division
            
E2   
  E3     
          
        
  W1     
W4     
      
Western Division
            
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 3 teams from each division qualifying (each team played 4 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 6, however, the round-robin format was dropped after one year. First-placed teams received a bye to the best-of-five Division Finals. Teams placed 2nd & 3rd 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     
          
        
          
        
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 2 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 8 to 10. 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.
  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.
  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.
  First Round
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 2 weeks to play their next series against a team that had won 4-3.
  First Round
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 3 divisions with each division winner qualifying for a top-3 seed regardless of record. The next best five teams from each conference also qualified for the playoffs.
  First Round
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-3 seed, regardless of record, the rules were changed such that the division winners are now only guaranteed a top-4 seed. The best second-placed team in the conference now may be seeded as high as 2 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 second-best teams are the East's #2 seed and the West's #4 seed.
  First Round
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       

History

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

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 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 San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Mavericks of the Southwest Division did just that. This turn of events led to the playoff format being criticized by many. Critics claimed the matchup was not only unfair to the team that would lose earlier in the playoffs than it deserved, but also created an unfair advantage for teams in the 2-7/3-6 half of the Western Conference playoff bracket, which could advance to the conference finals without playing either of the two best teams in the conference.[3]

The Phoenix Suns, winners of the Pacific Division and possessors of the third best record, were seeded second, and 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, and likely face first-seeded San Antonio if it managed to defeat Dallas. The sixth seed would play Denver in the first round and would have home-court advantage, and only have to play, at most, one of Dallas or San Antonio - in the conference finals.

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, and 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.

Records and statistics

  • Only three 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 (which was a lockout shortened season), 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. The 1999 Knicks are the only 8th seeded team ever to reach the NBA Finals.
  • The 1994-95 Houston Rockets, a sixth seed, 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.
  • The San Antonio Spurs own the longest NBA Playoff winning streak 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 and San Antonio Spurs are the only teams with perfect records at 6-0 and 4-0, respectively. (Note: these are the series records, not the individual game records)
  • The Boston Celtics possess the most overall NBA Finals series wins with an overall record of 17-3. The Los Angeles Lakers have played in the most NBA Finals series (30) with an overall record of 15-15.
  • The longest playoff appearance streak currently belongs to the San Antonio Spurs at 12 appearances, with the Dallas Mavericks next in line with 9. 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.

References

External links








Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address
Message