clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Seeding, Home Court To Be Decided In Trail Blazers’ Season Finale

New, comments

Spoiler: If the Blazers beat the Jazz, or the Spurs lose to the Pelicans, Portland will host Game 1 of the NBA playoffs.

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Denver Nuggets Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Buckle up, Portlanders, it’s time for the NBA’s regular season finale and we STILL don’t know who the Trail Blazers will play in the first round of the 2018 NBA Playoffs, or if they’ll have home-court advantage. But Tuesday’s Jazz victory over the Warriors has narrowed the scenarios significantly.

What Games to Watch and Who to Cheer For

Portland’s situation will likely change before they tip off. Here’s what you need to know:

  1. Jazz at Blazers: If the Blazers beat the Jazz they will have 49 wins, the 3-seed, and home-court advantage in round one. They will play the Nuggets, Pelicans, Spurs, or Timberwolves, depending on the outcomes of the other games (see the NBA’s table below for all scenarios).
  2. Spurs at Pelicans: If the Blazers lose to the Jazz, they will play the winner of the Pelicans/Spurs game in the 4/5 matchup. If it’s the Spurs the series will start in San Antonio, but if it’s the Pelicans the Blazers will begin the playoffs in the Rose Garden.

Note that the Pelicans/Spurs game will likely be ending a few minutes before the Blazers tip-off against the Jazz. Barring overtime, coach Terry Stotts and his team will know if they have home-court advantage already locked up before their game begins.

Here it is in Twitter format if you prefer your playoff summaries in 280 characters or less:

A Caveat About Home-Court Advantage

If the Blazers lose and the Thunder win, there will be a 3-way tie for seeds 4-6 with 48 wins. The Blazers will win the tie and the 4-seed, with the Thunder finishing as the 6-seed (true if third team is Pelicans OR Spurs). However, even if the Blazers are the 4-seed, if they play the Spurs in round one San Antonio will have home-court advantage by virtue of their regular season series victory over the Blazers. This makes the outcome of the Thunder game functionally irrelevant if the Blazers lose to the Jazz.

Here’s the memo from the league explaining that home-court advantage is decided by head-to-head regular season record when teams with identical wins face off in the playoffs (huge thanks to Mike on Twitter for making me aware of this). This is similar to the scenario in 2015 when the Blazers snagged the fourth seed by virtue of their division championship but ceded home-court advantage to the Grizzlies who won more games in the regular season.

In short, if the Blazers and Spurs play each other in the first round and both teams have 48 wins, the Spurs will have home-court advantage, regardless of seeding.

That’s all you need to know going into tonight’s game. However, if you’re curious...

The Gritty Details

Game-by-game scenarios. Remember that if two teams are tied their head-to-head regular season results will determine home-court advantage, regardless of seeding.

Head-to-Head Tiebreakers

Full Seeding Table From the NBA

NBA Tiebreak Procedure

Source (Note that there is an outdated link from 2010 floating around. The rules were changed in 2015 and that page is now inaccurate.)

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. In the case of a tie in regular-season records involving only two teams, the following criteria will be utilized in the following order:

(1) Better winning percentage in games against each other.

(2) Division winner (this criterion is applied regardless of whether the tied teams are in the same division).

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

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

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

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

(7) Better net result of total points scored less total points allowed against all opponents (“point differential”).

b. More Than Two Teams Tied. In the case of a tie in regular-season records involving more than two teams, the following criteria will be utilized in the following order:

(1) Division winner (this criterion is applied regardless of whether the tied teams are in the same division).

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

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

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

(5) Better winning percentage against teams eligible for playoffs in own 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”).

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) 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 not for any other purpose.

(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 tie-break 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.