NBA plans changes to playoff seeding

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver says changes are coming to the playoff seeding process, though not dramatic ones

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said Thursday the league will likely alter the way it seeds playoff teams, though it won't include taking the top 16 teams regardless of conference.

"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 according to SI.com. "We may change that fairly quickly.... That is a vestige of a division system that may not make sense anymore."

The league is considering seeding the top eight teams in each conference by record instead of guaranteeing each division winner with a top four spot. Such a change this season would have meant the Clippers (56-26) would have played the Portland Trail Blazers (51-31) in the first round of the playoffs instead of the San Antonio Spurs (55-27). 

However, since the Trail Blazers won the Northwest Division, they were the fourth-seeded team despite having a record worse than the Spurs and Memphis Grizzlies (55-27), who finished second and third in the stronger Southwest Division.

Many have pushed for a more dramatic overhaul to the playoff system, which would have the teams with the best 16 records facing off against each other instead of the current format which allowed three teams with records of .500 or worse to reach the postseason in the Eastern Conference.

In the Western Conference, because of the stronger records of the top eight teams, the Oklahoma City Thunder (45-37) missed the playoffs. Were they in the East they would have been a six-seed.

Silver noted that the idea of seeding teams one through 16 seemed attractive, but the problems created by the combined conferences would create too many travel issues.

"For example, this [Golden State] team would have played Boston in the first round under a 1 through 16 seeding and would have had to crisscross 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]," he said.

Follow Matt Wilhalme on Twitter @mattwilhalme

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