The NBA is reportedly changing its playoff format once again, but it's not the wholesale change some fans were hoping for. The NBA will now seed teams 1-8 in each conference regardless of the division winners, according to Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. The league officially announced the news in early September.
Under the previous format, a division winner was guaranteed a top four seed in each conference. Now, they may not even be guaranteed a playoff spot. It will only come into play as a second tiebreaker after head-to-head record.
A new spotlight was put on the issue when the Los Angeles Clippers met the San Antonio Spurs in a thrilling first round series this postseason. The Spurs would have played the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round if the seeds were determined by wins and losses, but they were instead stuck playing Los Angeles because the Portland Trail Blazers were granted the No. 4 seed as a division winner. The Blazers won 51 games while Memphis and San Antonio each won 55.
Commissioner Adam Silver had addressed this as a potential change during the postseason. It will go into effect immediately.