How Do the NBA Playoffs Work?

If you want your best or favorite team to win the NBA championship, that team will have to first get into the playoffs and then proceed with other parts of the tournament. It is not simple to win in NBA as every single team included arrives with top-notch players that can show off their skills well on the court. Not only that, but the variations of teams make it even harder for the player to keep track of the abilities of different teams and what strategies they use. But if it were that easy, there would be no point in arranging a world-class tournament called NBA.

The playoffs of the NBA work in a way that various teams from both conferences have to win their matches and seal their positions which can also be called a seed. Different teams in various positions will have to win according to their criteria in order to proceed further.

You might now have millions of questions in your head that which team has to win, how many games and what is a seed, etc. That is why I will explain all the things briefly so that you can understand better how NBA playoffs work. But first, let us get to know some essential facts that can also be crucial in this regard.

Also Read: How You  Can Get Into NBA Draft

How many teams are there in NBA, and how many reach the Playoffs?

How Do the NBA Playoffs Work

If you have just started watching NBA or you have just started your career as a basketball player, you would want to know how many teams play in NBA. In total, there are 30 teams in NBA that can play in the tournament. All the viewers and fans from all over the world get to watch exciting matches of different teams and players within one place. Out of those 30 teams, only 16 teams qualify for the NBA playoffs.

No chance is given to the remaining 14 teams, and all of them get disqualified from the tournament. But of course, all of the disqualified teams can play again in NBA if they meet the criteria to entertain every basketball fan.

What are conferences and divisions in NBA?

As I stated earlier, the teams from both conferences compete with each other in the Playoffs and then proceed further for the tournament. So what is a conference?

To make things easier and straightforward, NBA is divided into two conferences. The conferences are:

  • East conference
  • West conference

Now both of these conferences have different divisions in them. Each conference consists of three divisions based on the locations. Lastly, the divisions included in the conferences consist of 5 teams each.

If you are wondering why this rule has been made, then it is to offer an equal chance to everybody in the country. As you might have noticed, every location offers five different teams, and there is no misconception between them. It helps find the talent from all over the country and showcase what they have got in them.

How do the teams qualify for NBA?

The qualification for NBA is pretty simple and straightforward, and it gives every team a chance to play in the playoffs as you might have seen in some basketball leagues that the team that actually ends up with the most wins at the end of the season wins the league. But here, teams are ranked based on how many matches they have won.

The team that has won the most matches gets the first spot or seed, you can say, and that particular team qualifies for the NBA playoffs. In the same manner, the team that has second-most wins, and the team that has third-most wins to get the seconds and third spot, respectively. This list goes on till the 16th team, and then all the remaining teams are disqualified.

The actual format of NBA Playoffs  

Well, here now, the time has arrived to see how NBA playoffs work. We just checked above that 16 teams qualified for the NBA playoffs. Out of those 16 teams, there are eight teams from each conference.

One important thing to note here is that the teams from various conferences do not play with each other in the playoffs or even quarter or semi-finals.

1. Matches Distribution

As I have stated, teams from various conferences do not play until the finals arrive. So the match distribution is held between the teams in the same conferences. The positions of the teams or the seeds decide what team they will play. To understand it better, take a look at this chart:

  • 8th seed plays with 1st seed (8th 1st)
  • 7th seed plays with 2nd seed (7th 2nd)
  • 6th seed plays with 3rd seed (6th 2nd)
  • 5th seed plays with 4th seed (5th 4th)

The same scenario goes with both of the conferences, and both of them have to follow this pattern in order to proceed with the tournament. You might be thinking that it would be hard for the 8th seed to play with the 1st seed, but NBA is so unpredictable that anything can happen at any time.

2. Number of plays in each round

There are four rounds from NBA playoffs till the finals. The first one is Playoffs, the second is the quarter-finals, the third is the semi-finals, and finally, the final. In each round, every team has to play a series with the opponent team. The series consists of 7 plays, and the team that reaches four wins first qualifies for the next round.

This criteria is followed throughout the tournament, and the team that loses the round gets disqualified from the tournament. The best thing about this criteria is that both teams get multiple chances to overcome their mistakes and build a new strategy for the next play. But indeed, out of 7 chances, the team has to win 4 in order to qualify. But still, three massive chances are provided that can help anyone to better understand any side.

Will the format of Playoffs ever change?

Who knows? The last time we saw a change in NBA playoffs was in 2005. Since then, there have been minor changes that can be neglected, and they don’t affect the game much. But no one knows about the future, and there is a chance that the format of the playoffs can change.

But the format that is currently being used is pretty perfect, and there does not seem to be anything that needs to change. But well, let the authorities decide and see what changes will happen in the coming years.

Final Verdict

It is straightforward to understand how the NBA playoffs work. The real struggle for any team is to qualify for it. Every team has to compete with the remaining 29 and seal their position from anywhere between 1-16 to play in the playoffs. Well, this is what is most interesting in NBA.

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