The playoff seedings in the NBA were not decided until the final day of the regular season. As three of the four teams that took part in the conference finals last season, did not even reach the postseason this season. Those teams included the Miami Heat, Indiana Pacers and Oklahoma City Thunder.
There are plenty of new faces in the playoffs this season with the Bucks, Cavaliers, Pelicans and Celtics all taking part in the NBA’s second season, after not participating last season in the playoffs.
Golden State and Atlanta were able to lock up the No. 1 seeds in each of their conferences early in the final month of the season, while Houston leapfrogged San Antonio on the last night of the season to take the No. 2 seed out West.
The Spurs, the defending champions, were on a tear to end the season winning 14 of their last 16 regular season games, but dropped down to sixth in the conference and must face a tough opening series against the LA Clippers, after losing the last game of the season to New Orleans.
Cleveland returns to the playoff scene for the first time in five seasons, as superstar LeBron James is attempting to reach the NBA Finals for the fifth consecutive season. He and his teammates were the strongest team in the Eastern Conference since the All Star break. The Cavaliers enter the postseason as the No. 2 seed in the East. The Cavaliers open their postseason against feisty Boston Celtics team.
The Western Conference is by far the deeper conference with any of the top six teams having a legitimate chance to win the conference title.
Golden State with its 67-15 record has played much better than the rest of the conference but with the Clippers, Rockets, Grizzlies, Trail Blazers and Spurs in the top six, anything could happen during a seven game series. The Mavericks are the seventh seed and the Pelicans sneaked in the eighth spot.
In the East, it looks like a two-horse race between Atlanta and Cleveland, but Chicago could have a say in the matter. The Hawks are tough to stop on offense and Cleveland has gelled into one of the best teams in the league during the second half. Chicago has as close to a full healthy lineup it has had since October. The Bulls should have everyone healthy or at least able to play when they open their series against Milwaukee as the No. 3 seed in the East.