Winning percentage will determine final seedings in NBA restart; regular tiebreakers used
Heading into the NBA’s restart in Orlando, the Trail Blazers are the nine seed in the West, followed by the Pelicans and Kings. All three of those teams are 3.5 games back of Memphis for the eighth seed, however, Portland gets the nine seed because it played two more games than either New Orleans and Sacramento, went 1-1 in those two games, and that gives Portland a slightly better winning percentage (.439 to .438).
That winning percentage matters because it’s how the league will determine seeding in a situation where teams have played a different number of games, reports Tim Bontemps of ESPN.
Two things that were unclear about the NBA’s tie-breaking procedures have been clarified: the usual standings tie-breakers will be used, and winning percentage will be what determines who is in each spot in the standings, according to a league source.— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) June 6, 2020
The winning percentage point is noteworthy, as it will be a factor with teams having different numbers of games played. Example: Blazers are ahead of Pelicans because they’ve played two more games, and went 1-1. So the Pelicans have to have a better record in Orlando to pass them https://t.co/933xnNYxqT— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) June 6, 2020
In practical terms, this may not matter much.
In the West, if Portland and New Orleans both went 8-0 in the seeding games then winning percentage would play a role with the Blazers getting the higher seed. However, that scenario is highly unlikely. More likely is wins and losses in Orlando will decide this and other tiebreakers (New Orleans beat Sacramento in their one head-to-head meeting, but our projected schedule for those teams has them playing twice, so the head-to-head tiebreaker is still up in the air). Because of how the records shake out, tiebreakers are irrelevant to Portland — it will not tie any teams, winning percentage will decide their seed.
In the East, winning percentage is irrelevant for the playoff chase — either Washington gets within four games of Orlando hand forces play-in games for the final playoff spot, or it doesn’t and Orlando is in.