How do the NBA Playoffs and Finals work


The Playoffs and, in particular, the Finals, are the most exciting part of the entire NBA season. Millions of people are glued to the TV in order to root for their favourite team, in hopes of reaching the most sought goal: the Larry O’Brien Trophy!

Here it is a little guide on how the second part of the NBA season, the most exciting and awaited one, works: the post-season.

How do the NBA Playoffs work

The Playoffs represent the second part of the NBA season after the Regular Season. The best Eastern and Western Conferences’ teams confront each other in a tournament consisting of three rounds: quarterfinals, semifinals and Conference Final.

The winning teams of the respective Conference Finals will confront each other in the NBA Finals, deciding the winning franchise of the NBA Title.

How many NBA teams enter the Finals?

There are 16 teams in the Playoffs: the top eight teams in the Western Conference and the top eight teams in the Eastern Conference. The 16 qualifiers are paired based on their final position in Regular Season’s ranking:

  • first vs eighth;
  • second vs seventh;
  • third vs sixth;
  • fourth vs fifth.

Starting from 2019-2020 season, the last team in each Conference to enter the post-season is decided by a mini-tournament, the Play-In.

The Playoffs use a best-of-seven elimination format (the teams winning 4 matches pass the turn). The home field advantage is in favor of the team that achieved the best record during the Regular Season.

The format is 2-2-1-1-1, that is the team with the best record plays at home the first two matches of the series, then it is up to the other team to host. Finally, there will be alternating home games until Game-7, if necessary.

How do the NBA Finals work

The NBA Finals are the last stage of the season. The winning teams of the Western and of the Eastern Conferences partecipate in it.

The Finals’ format is the same as in the Playoffs: best-of-seven one, the first team to win four matches wins the NBA Title.

The home field advantage is assigned to the franchise with the best W-L record in the Regular Season, who will play at home Game-1, Game-2, Game-5 and Game-7, if necessary. The other team will play at home Game-3, Game-4 and Game-6, if necessary.

The winning team will receive the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy.



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