The NBA Playoffs are the postseason event hosted by the National Basketball Association (NBA) to select the league’s champion. Annually, the NBA playoffs are a best of seven competition that follows the NBA regular season and its preparatory postseason event, known as the NBA Play-In Tournament.

The NBA’s seeding formula stayed essentially similar after the reorganization of the two conferences into three divisions. The top three seedings will henceforth be reserved for division winners. It was, however, determined that if the two teams with the best records from a conference were in the same division, they would be seeded first and fourth. No first-round shocks elevated the possibility of a conference semi-final instead of a final matchup between the league’s two best teams.

The 2004-05 and 2005-06 NBA playoff formats were controversial, and they would be modified before the 2006-07 season in the NBA. Division winners had a lock on the top two seeds in the NBA playoffs prior to the 2004 realignment of the league into two conferences with two divisions each. This meant that the top two teams in a conference would never play until the conference finals if both made it that far.

NBA Playoffs explained

NBA playoffs were usually considered to be the whole of the NBA postseason before the 2020s, while other sources argue that they should be considered different from the NBA playoffs altogether. While the NBA has traditionally used the term “playoffs” to designate its premier postseason competition, the term “postseason” has become a colloquial shorthand.

After two seasons of Covid-shortened play, an expansion to the playoffs was made permanent for the 2021-22 NBA season. This marked the beginning of a new era for the league. This year’s NBA Playoffs will still feature a four-round, best-of-seven series (including the championship game), however, there will be differences between the playoff and postseason qualifying requirements.

Officially distinct from the NBA Playoffs, the NBA Play-In Tournament uses a four-team, three-game structure to seed the last two positions (the seventh and eighth seeds) in the main playoff brackets. Third through sixth-place finishers in each conference play each other. The tournament’s modified page playoff format pits the seventh and eighth-place teams against one another, with the victor advancing to the playoff round as the number seven seed.

There are two games in which the ninth and tenth place teams compete for the eighth playoff spot. The ninth-place team is eliminated, while the 10th-placed team is pitted against the seventh-place team. For the playoffs, the top six teams in each conference (East and West) are seeded according to their winning percentage. There are two tie-breaking factors for playoff seeding and home-court advantage: first, the outcomes of the tied teams’ head-to-head matches; second, if a club has won its division title.