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NBA playoffs format explained: rounds, number of games, seeding...

The NBA playoffs are a series of elimination rounds that determine the National Basketball Association (NBA) champion for that particular season.

NBA playoffs format explained: rounds, number of games, seeding...

The NBA playoffs are here. Round 1 continues tonight, with the last two teams battling for the final spot in the Western Conference Semifinal.

The NBA playoffs: how does the format work?

Once the 16 teams have been decided, who plays will be determined based on seeds. There are eight teams from each conference, Eastern and Western. The Nos. 1-6 ranked teams are selected based on their regular season records, and the Nos. The results of the Play-in tournament determine 7-8 seeds.

The NBA playoffs have four rounds:

  • First Round
  • Conference Semifinals
  • Conference Finals
  • NBA Final

Best of seven format

As there are eight teams in each conference in the playoffs, there will be four matchups per conference. Within each matchup, there can be up to seven games, with the winner being the first to win four. Thus, sometimes all seven games are not necessary as some teams will reach four wins before then.

In each round, the teams with the better regular-season record will win home-court advantage with a 2-2-1-1-1 home/away format. So, the teams with the higher seed will play Games 1, 2, 5, and 7 at home in each round.

First Round

Here are how the matchups look in the First Round:

  • No. 1 vs No. 8
  • No. 2 vs. No. 7
  • No. 3 vs. No. 6
  • No. 4 vs No. 5

The first through fourth-ranked teams will have home-court advantage in the First Round. The First Round of the 2023 NBA playoffs begins this Saturday, April 15 until Sunday, April 29.

NBA playoffs format explained: rounds, number of games, seeding...

Conference Semifinals

The four teams who won the best of seven in each conference will then move on to the Conference Semifinals. The best-of-seven format continues with the same home-court advantage rules in the second round.

Depending on how quickly the games finish in the First Round, the Conference semifinals will either be from May 1-2 or April 29-30.

Conference Finals

At this point, just two teams will be left in each conference. Those two teams will compete against each other in the Conference Finals for the conference title and a spot in the NBA Final. The best-of-seven format and home-court advantage rule still apply.

Depending on how quickly games finish in the previous two rounds, the Conference Finals could be held May 16-17 or May 14-15.

NBA Finals

This will be the final round when just one team from the Eastern Conference and one from the Western Conference is left. The Finals are also a best-of-seven format with the home-court-advantage rule applied. The team who reaches four wins first will become the NBA Champion and win the Larry O’Brien Championship trophy.

The NBA Finals will begin on June 1:

  • June 1: NBA Finals Game 1
  • June 4: NBA Finals Game 2
  • June 7: NBA Finals Game 3
  • June 9: NBA Finals Game 4
  • June 12: NBA Finals Game 5 (if needed)
  • June 15: NBA Finals Game 6 (if needed)
  • June 18: NBA Finals Game 7 (if needed)

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