Wednesday, August 02, 2006

NBA: Playoff Format Changes [J. Mark English]

The NBA is changing the way teams are seeded in the postseason, looking to avoid the controversy that surrounded last season's playoffs.
Starting in the upcoming season, the top four seeds -- the three division winners and the second-place team with the best record -- will be seeded according to their win-loss total, guaranteeing that the top two teams in each conference can't meet until the conference finals, the league announced Wednesday.
The NBA had given the top three seeds to division winners regardless of record, meaning a second-place team could not do better than the No. 4 seed, even if it had a better record than a division champion.
That rule came under fire last season when division rivals San Antonio and Dallas were forced to meet in the second round of the Western Conference playoffs, even though the second-place Mavericks had a far better record than division champions Phoenix or Denver.