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Playoff Tie-Break Procedures


Posted Aug 25 2010 3:04PM

The following outlines the NBA's playoff tie-break rules and procedures based on the final regular season standings:

Tiebreaker Basis

(-) Tie breaker not needed (better overall winning percentage)
(1) Division leader wins tie from team not leading a division
(2) Head-to-head won-lost percentage
(3) Division won-lost percentage
(4) Conference won-lost percentage
(5) W-L Percentage vs. Playoff teams, own conference
(6) W-L Percentage vs. Playoff teams, other conference
(7) Net Points, all games

x-Clinched Playoff Berth | o-Eliminated from Playoffs contention | e-Clinched Eastern Conference | w-Clinched Western Conference | nw-Clinched Northwest Division | p-Clinched Pacific Conference | sw-Clinched Southwest Division | a-Clinched Atlantic Division | c-Clinched Central Conference | se-Clinched Southeast Conference

*-Games remaining vs.Teams Over/Under .500

Playoff Tie-Break Procedures

Teams 1 to 4 in each conference are the three division winners and the team with the next best regular-season record, with the seeding of these four teams determined by regular-season record. The playoffs seedings of Teams 5 to 8 are based upon regular-season record. Ties are broken pursuant to the rules set forth below.

Ties for playoff positions (including division winners) will be broken utilizing the criteria set forth in subparagraph a. below (in the case of ties involving two teams) and subparagraph b. below (in the case of ties involving more than two teams), and the guidelines set forth in subparagraph c. below.

a. Two Teams Tied

(1) Better winning percentage in games against each other

(2) Better winning percentage against teams in own division (only if tied teams are in same division).

(3) Better winning percentage against teams in own conference.

(4) Better winning percentage against teams eligible for playoffs in own conference (including teams that finished the regular season tied for a playoff position).

(5) Better winning percentage against teams eligible for playoffs in opposite conference (including teams that finished the regular season tied for a playoff position).

(6) Better net result of total points scored less total points allowed against all opponents ("point differential").

b. More Than Two Teams Tied

(1) Better winning percentage in all games among the tied teams.

(2) Better winning percentage against teams in own division (only if all tied teams are in the same division).

(3) Better winning percentage against teams in own conference.

(4) Better winning percentage against teams eligible for playoffs in own conference (including teams that finished the regular season tied for a playoff position).

(5) Better net result of total points scored less total points allowed against all opponents ("point differential").

c. Guidelines For Applying Tie-Break Criteria.

The following guidelines shall be used when applying the above criteria to break ties for playoff positions:

(1) (a) Since the three division winners are guaranteed a spot in the top four, ties to determine the division winners must be broken before any other ties.

(b) When a tie must be broken to determine a division winner, the results of the tie-break shall be used to determine only the division winner and its playoff position, not any other playoff position(s).

(2) If a tie involves more than two teams, the tie-break criteria in subparagraph b. shall be applied in the order set forth therein until the first to occur of the following:

(a) Each of the tied teams has a different winning percentage or point differential under the applicable tiebreak criterion (a "complete" breaking of the tie). In this circumstance, the team with the best winning percentage or point differential under the criterion will be awarded the best playoff position, the team with the next-best winning percentage or point differential will be awarded the next-best playoff position, and so on, and no further application of the tie-break criteria will be required.

~OR~

(b) One or more (but not all) of the tied teams has a different winning percentage or point differential under the applicable tie-break criterion (a "partial" breaking of the tie). In this circumstance: (x) any team(s) that performed better under the applicable criterion than any other team(s) will be awarded a higher playoff position than such other team(s); and (y) teams that had equivalent performance under the applicable criterion will remain tied, and such remaining tie(s) will be broken by applying, from the beginning, the criteria in subparagraph a.(1)-(6) above (for any remaining tie involving only two teams) or subparagraph b.(1)-(5) above (for any remaining tie involving more than two teams) and the guidelines set forth in this subparagraph c.

(3) If application of the criteria in subparagraph a. or b. does not result in the breaking of a tie, the playoff positions of the tied teams will be determined by a random drawing.

d. Home Court Advantage:

For purposes of home court advantage, ties will be broken pursuant to the procedures used for breaking two-team ties for playoff position.

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