In what has been a much talked about discussion for years, the NBA has finally got it right when it comes to the format of playoff seeding. Instead of allowing the division winners to automatically have a top-four seed in the Eastern Conference and Western Conference, the seeding will not be based solely on a team’s record.
Nearly two months ago, the NBA’s Competition Committee discussed the possibility of changing the playoff format. It then went as far as the committee recommending an immediate change to the preference of a division winner over a better win-loss record. Along with the playoff format change, postseason tiebreakers for seeding and home-court advantage will now be based on head-to-head results above all else. Under the previous format, home-court advantage went to the division winner.
If the rule had been applied to last season, the San Antonio Spurs (55-27) would have sat in the fourth seed in the Western Conference instead of the Portland Trail Blazers (51-31). However, because the Trail Blazers won the Northwest division, they were allowed a top-four seed over the Spurs.
It should be noted that other sports could follow the same format, although it does not appear likely anytime soon. The biggest reason being winning a division in the NBA is rather pointless now. Sure, claiming to be the division winner to sell merchandise and hang a banner is cool, but it has no impact other than that. Essentially, teams should be grouped into two conferences and get rid of divisions all together.