The NBA takes its first major step to level the playing field for the postseason after the Board of Governors voted unanimously to change two key criteria Tuesday in New York.
Going forward, teams will be seeded Nos. 1-8 in each conference strictly on overall wins. Division winners will no longer be guaranteed a top four seed -- and thus home-court advantage in the first round -- if they have fewer wins than teams in tougher divisions.
For example, in the West last season the Portland Trail Blazers held the No. 4 seed with 51 wins because they won the Northwest Division. However, the No. 5 Memphis Grizzlies and No. 6 San Antonio Spurs each had 55 in the Southwest Division, finishing just one win behind the Houston Rockets with 56.
If that scenario were to play out starting with the 2015-16 season, Portland would be a No. 6 seed and on the road to begin the postseason at the L.A. Clippers despite a crown in a division where only two of the five teams had above .500 records. In the Southwest, all five were over .500 with the New Orleans Pelicans last with 45 wins.
Another change instituted will be with tiebreakers that determine seeding. Head-to-head will be the No. 1 criterion used to break ties and whether or not a term won its division will be the second tiebreaker.
The Grizzlies and Spurs were 2-2 head-to-head last season so they'd have gone to the third criterium (conference win-loss percentage) which remains the same. Memphis was three games better so they'd have been the No. 4 seed and San Antonio slotted at No. 5.