The NBA’s Board of Governors unanimously approved changes to how teams qualify for the playoffs and how they will be seeded, the league announced in a press release. The eight playoff teams in each conference will now be seeded based on the order of their regular-season records. Previously, every division winner was guaranteed a top four seed in its conference regardless of record but did not receive home-court advantage if its playoff opponent had a better regular season mark. The new seeding structure will commence this season.
The Board also approved changes to tiebreaker criteria for playoff seeding and determining home-court advantage. Head-to-head results have become the first criteria to break ties for playoff seeding and home-court advantage between two teams with identical regular season records, with the second criteria being if a team won its division. Under the old system, a division winner was awarded the higher seed and received home-court advantage in series between two teams with identical records.
One aspect of these alterations that will be interesting to observe is whether or not the regular season schedule will also be changed as a result. Previously, the league employed an unbalanced schedule that saw teams have more games against opponents within their respective divisions than against those outside them. With winning the division now de-emphasized as a result of these approved changes, teams that play in weaker divisions could now end up having a distinct advantage over those who play in some of the deeper, tougher ones.