The NBA will consider changes to its playoff seeding structure, NBA commissioner Adam Silver said during his annual state of the league address before Game 1 of the NBA Finals.
The changes, which Silver said should be decided “fairly quickly,” likely will mean that division winners no longer will automatically receive one of the top four seeds in the conference playoffs.
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“We are very focused on the divisional seeding process, and I think we are going to take a very close look at whether we should seed at least 1 through 8 by conference as opposed to giving the division winner that higher seed,” Silver said, via SI.com. “That is a vestige of a division system that may not make sense anymore.”
This year, the Trail Blazers, who finished the season with the sixth-best record in the West at 51-31, were granted the No. 4 seed after winning the Northwest Division. The Grizzlies (55-27) and Spurs (55-27) became the Nos. 5 and 6 seeds, respectively, which meant the Spurs had to face the No. 3 seed Clippers (56-26) in the first round. The Clippers beat the Spurs in seven games.
If the teams had been seeded 1 through 8 based solely on record, the Spurs would have played the Grizzlies and the Trail Blazers would have played the Clippers.
Silver said last year he would “take a fresh look” at the playoff structure. He said again in February that the league would consider changes to the playoff format, but backed off a bit in April, saying that that the format would not change any time soon.
Though it has been widely suggested, Silver dismissed the idea of seeding playoff teams 1 through 16 regardless of conference.
“While (the 1-through-16 proposal) seems attractive in many ways, because of the additional travel that will result, it just doesn’t seem like a good idea at the moment,” Silver said, per SI.com. “For example, (the Warriors) would have played Boston in the first round under a 1-through-16 seeding and would have had to criss-cross back and forth across the country, which does not seem like a good idea, especially based on the earlier question based on the health of our players, and focusing on actually reducing the amount of travel and back-to-back (games).”