As expected, the NBA’s Board of Governors unanimously approved a change to the league’s postseason format Tuesday so that division winners will not automatically earn top four seeds. Come playoff time, the teams in each conference will be seeded one through eight based solely on their win-loss record.
Formerly, teams that won their respective division could earn no worse than the fourth seed in the conference.
With the Portland Trail Blazers finishing with the sixth best record in the Western Conference a season ago, the team earned the fourth seed as they won the Northwest Division. Had this occurred during the 2015-2016 season, Portland would have been awarded the sixth seed based on their record.
Although this is not the first instance in which the new format would have favored teams in other divisions with better records, the NBA continues to evolve into a more modern direction with a new regime in place. The changes will give teams more of an opportunity to have home court advantage based on their ability to win games and not by geographic location or divisional rank.
The league also changed the tiebreaker procedures to suit the new format. Head-to-head results will serve as the first tiebreaker for seeding and home-court advantage while whether a team won its division will be used as the second tiebreaker.