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No guarantee a division winner would earn NBA playoff berth in new planned postseason format

NBA commissioner Adam Silver answers questions at a

NBA commissioner Adam Silver answers questions at a news conference after a deal was announced between the league and TV networks in New York on Oct. 6, 2014. Credit: AP / Mark Lennihan

NEWARK - NBA commissioner Adam Silver said last week the league likely would alter its playoff format to seed the playoff teams in each conference one through eight regardless of division standings.

But that left one matter unresolved: Would a division winner actually be left out of the playoffs if it somehow was not among the eight best records, as unlikely as that is? Or would a division winner earn a berth through the back door?

Silver said Wednesday that no decision has been made, but that the likelihood is winning a division will come with no guarantees.

"Number one, we've looked at it a fair amount and discussed it both at the competition committee and at the Board [of Governors]," he said before appearing on a panel with Teresa Edwards and Dikembe Mutombo at the Prudential Center for Beyond Sport Unlimited, a conference on social engagement in sports.

"First of all, it's never happened before that a division winner did not finish within the top eight, and our basketball analytics folks calculate that there's less than a 5 percent chance that it would happen. Where we're leaning right now is we would not guarantee a spot for a division winner, in part because it's so unlikely to happen, and number two, if it does happen it would be potentially confusing to fans. And number three, you would be displacing a team that did have a top-eight record.

"So while we're going to continue discussing it a little bit more, we need to make that decision before the preseason begins. I think the greater likelihood is we will not be guaranteeing a spot to a division winner."

New York Sports