What are the NBA playoffs?
If you haven’t really paid attention to the sport in the past or if you are surrounded by basketball fanatics but don’t really care for it, you might be wondering why we’re still talking about basketball events even after the regular season is over. Fortunately, or maybe unfortunately depending on your point of view, this sport isn’t going to leave your television screen just yet.
The NBA playoffs is an event held every year after the season is over to find the ultimate winner of the league of that year. It rounds up some of the best teams in each conference and pits them against each other until there is, eventually, a clash of force between two teams of opposing conferences. There are sixteen teams competing in total, eight from each conference.
How will it happen?
If you’re a long-time fan of NBA basketball, you might already know that there was a change in the format of the event in December 2015. Things this year are the same as they were last year, as well as the year before that.
The top eight teams from each conference are called to compete in the playoffs. They are ranked by win-loss records, meaning the ones with the most victories get selected. In the chance of a tie, head-to-head results of the teams are the first criteria, and whether or not a team was the winner of its division championship is second.
Now that all the teams have been selected, it is time to find out who is facing whom on the court during the first round. The chosen teams are put together in a specific order. This new seeding places the teams on brackets: (1-8, 2-7, 3-6, 4-5) for each of the conferences.
The second phase will see a measuring of forces between the four winners from the previous round. There will be a match-up between the 1-8 and 4-5 winners and between the 2-7 and 3-6 winners. Again, this will happen for both conferences.
The winners will not move on to the conference final, where the winners of the previous round will have to prove their worth in order to go on to the ultimate showdown — the NBA Finals and last round of this event.
The moment everyone will have been waiting for will be the last stage of this event: the NBA Finals where the league champion will be chosen.
Which teams are competing, and who will be their opponents?
We finally know who is going to take part in the playoffs, and who their opponent will be. This was a very stressful and awaited end of season, as a lot of fans only got to learn if their team was going to go ahead at the end of the regular season.
If you don’t know whether your team made it or you want to know who they will be facing in the first round of the playoffs, pay attention to the list down below:
1 — Houston Rockets
8 — Minnesota Timberwolves
4 — Oklahoma City Thunder
5 — Utah Jazz
3 — Portland Trail Blazers
6 — New Orleans Pelicans
2 — Golden State Warriors
7 — San Antonio Spurs
1 — Toronto Raptors
8 — Washington Wizards
4 — Cleveland Cavaliers
5 — Indiana Pacers
3 — Philadelphia 76ers
6 — Miami Heat
2 — Boston Celtics
7 — Milwaukee Bucks
The teams that will be facing each other on the court have been grouped together above by being separated from the other teams by an empty line. Don’t forget who your team will be facing!
Dates to keep track of
The playoffs are starting very soon, in fact, April 14th 2018 — this Saturday — will be the opening day. But this isn’t the most important day for fans. We already know the dates of the matches, at least the first four matches that will take place between each team. To see when your team will be playing, see the schedule down below. Note that all times are set for Eastern Time (ET).
Houston Rockets vs. Minnesota Timberwolves
1) Sunday 4/15 at 9 pm
2) Wednesday 4/18 at 9:30 pm
3) Saturday 4/21 at 7:30 pm
4) Monday, 4/23 at 8 pm
Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Utah Jazz
1) Sunday 4/15 at 6:30 pm
2) Wednesday 4/18 at 8 pm
3) Saturday 4/21 at 10 pm
4) Monday 4/23 at 10:30 pm
Portland Trail Blazers vs. New Orleans Pelicans
1) Saturday 4/14 at 10:30 pm
2) Tuesday 4/17 at 10:30 pm
3) Thursday 4/19 at 9 pm
4) Saturday 4/21 at 5 pm
Golden State Warriors vs. San Antonio Spurs
1) Saturday 4/14 at 3 pm
2) Monday 4/16 at 10:30 pm
3) Thursday 4/19 at 9:30 pm
4) Sunday 4/22 at 3:30 pm
Toronto Raptors vs. Washington Wizards
1) Saturday 4/14 at 5:30 pm
2) Tuesday 4/17 at 7 pm
3) Friday 4/20 at 8 pm
4) Sunday 4/22 at 6 pm
Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Indiana Pacers
1) Sunday 4/15 at 3:30 pm
2) Wednesday 4/18 at 7 pm
3) Friday 4/20 at 7 pm
4) Sunday 4/22 at 8:30 pm
Philadelphia 76ers vs. Miami Heat
1) Saturday 4/14 at 8 pm
2) Monday 4/16 at 8 pm
3) Thursday 4/19 at 7 pm
4) Saturday 4/21 at 2:30 pm
Boston Celtics vs. Milwaukee Bucks
1) Sunday 4/15 at 1 pm
2) Tuesday 4/17 at 7 pm
3) Friday 4/20 at 9:30 pm
4) Sunday 4/22 at 1 pm
These are just the four first matches each team will play for the first round. If there is a tie, there will be up to three more matches that will be announced as tie-breakers.
As far as the other rounds go, the dates haven’t been set in stone quite yet. However, there are some hypothetical dates you should remember.
The conference semifinals, or the second round, is scheduled to start either on April 30 or on May 1. This can, however, be moved up to April 28 or to April 29.
The conference finals, or the third round, is supposed to start either on May 15 or on May 16. Again, fans can expect this round to be moved up to May 13 or to May 14.
Finally, the long-awaited NBA Finals can be expected to start on May 31. According to the NBA, the latest possible date for the finals is June 17.
No matter who you are rooting for, this NBA playoff seems very promising. Not only will some of the most competitive and high-performing teams in the world be playing against each other, there is a lot of history behind some of these match-ups, and the players will surely put even the most passive fans at the edge of their seat.