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What’s Up with the NBA Seeding?

OK, I’ve been meaning to write this for a long time, but it’s still worth mentioning now that Houston and Utah is 3-2 Rockets, with each game being won on home court. The other series this affected was Miami/Chicago, but we all know how that turned out. I have asked several knowledgeable people, and still have yet to receive a legitimate answer. Why is Utah considered the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference playoffs, while the Rockets are seeded 5th?

Houston still has home court advantage in the series because they finished with a better regular season record than the Jazz. Makes perfect sense. So then why isn’t Houston the 4th seed? Reason why I mention all this is because when I picked the playoffs on ballhype, I gave Utah the nod based on home court. I literally thought it would be the closest and hardest fought series, coming down to who held home court advantage in Game 7. Seems like I’m right on point there — only problem is that Utah, despite being the 4th seed, does not have home court advantage.

I like what the NBA did this year, allowing teams with better records from the same division get seeded higher in the playoffs than say a division winner with a poorer record. Such was the case with both Cleveland in the Eastern Conference, and San Antonio in the Western Conference. I also understand that the NBA doesn’t want teams tanking to try and intentionally play a team they believe to be a weaker team that could be a higher seed (due to division winners getting higher seeds).

But once we see that Houston and Chicago received the home court advantages, then why are they listed as the No. 5 seeds instead of the No. 4? Seems like just semantics, but it actually can make a difference — especially to someone like me who was led to believe Utah would have home court advantage being the 4th seed — man was I wrong. So someone, please explain to me why Houston and Chicago weren’t just named the No. 4 seeds when they received every advantage a higher seeded team gets?


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  • sunofa

    From my understanding, the entire reason is to not remove all worth from winning your division. The new seedings were put in place stipulating that a team with a better record can finish above a division winner, but that no division winner can finish lower than 4th. Otherwise winning your division means nothing, and all that matters is winning the most games (now there’s a silly concept, the better teams win more games). The defense of this I suppose has to do with if you’re in a ridiculously tough division (now there’s an idea in the NBA), you deserve seeding for winning your division. With the way the schedule is set up, though, it would really make more sense just for the conferences to absolve the divisions.

    In this instance, you could change the 4 to the 5, I mean, in all honesty, the Rockets are the 4 seed, but they can’t be called that because the division winning Jazz can’t finish lower than a 4.

    The rule was created so that the two best record holders wouldn’t meet until the finals (assuming they win, a fact which someone obviously forgot to clue the Mavericks in on). Sadly, that means we get San Antonio versus Phoenix in the second round, which may end up being the NBA Finals.

    Under last year’s rules it would have been Dallas-GS, Phoenix-LA, Jazz-Nuggets, and Spurs-Rockets.

    What irritates me is the freaking bracket system. If Dallas gets knocked off, they should reseed, with Suns vs. Warriors and Spurs vs. Rockets. The current scenario leaves open the possibility of a Jazz-Spurs series, which is making me drowsy just thinking about.

  • http://www.larrybrownsports.com Larry Brown

    Yeah, that makes sense of course, but it still doesn’t answer why give the way things ended, Houston and Chicago shouldn’t have just been named the 4 seeds.

  • http://ballhype.com/ Jason

    I agree with sunofa – we really need reseeding for the conference semis. Jazz-Spurs in the conference finals this year would be a nightmare.

    Of course, reseeding would make bracket contests a lot more complicated …