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HomeSportsThe NBA regular season is over. Do your results mean anything?

The NBA regular season is over. Do your results mean anything?

Date: May 20, 2024 Time: 09:24:07

The question of the importance of regular season games is one of the most pressing in the modern NBA. Each of the 30 teams plays up to 82 games in seven months, and a good half of them are noticeably inferior in basketball quality to what can be seen in the playoffs. The league, which makes money from ticket sales and viewership, is doing everything it can to solve this problem. Last year, an additional tournament was created within the season and those competing for individual awards were required to play a minimum of 65 matches. But does this mean that teams’ final standing in the regular season will now matter more in the postseason? Let’s try to solve it.

If we take a time period of the last 10 years (since the 2013/2014 season), we can easily trace the trends that existed in the NBA. For example, no team that finished first in the West was eliminated in the first round, and the second place team reached the latter stages in 9 out of 10 cases. In the East it is the other way around. There, the second-place clubs had a 100% success rate, while for the conference winners this figure dropped to 90% after last year’s playoffs.

How many times did top 8 teams advance beyond the first round?

Photo: “Championship”

Furthermore, in the East, it was the conference runners-up (at the end of the regular season) who most often reached the NBA Finals. In 10 years, only one team that came out first made it to the decisive series: the Cavaliers in the 2015/2016 championship season. But the second seed made it to the NBA Finals five times. In the West, the situation is also completely different: there the winners have a 7-2 advantage over the second place. And since 2014, no team that finished outside the top 3 in the regular season has won the West final in the playoffs. There were three such teams in the East.

How many times have top 8 teams reached the NBA Finals?

Photo: “Championship”

But in both conferences, the seventh and eighth place teams never made it past the first round of the playoffs until a breakthrough in 2023. The Heat, although awarded the eighth seed, finished in seventh place and reached the Finals. the NBA, defeating the best team of the regular season, the Bucks, in the first round. It also caused a sensation in the West when the Lakers, who also occupied seventh place at the end of the regular season, reached the conference finals.

This interrupted a series that began much earlier than in 2014. Before this, the only time a seventh-seeded team had made it past the second round was in the 1986-87 playoffs. Then the Seattle SuperSonics (now Oklahoma City Thunder) with Dale Ellis, Tom Chambers and Xavier McDaniel lost to the future champions the Lakers with a score of 0:4. It is curious that the “lake people” themselves followed a similar path last year. They, like the SuperSonics, beat the second seed (Grizzlies) in the first round, the sixth seed (Warriors) in the second, and then were eliminated by the eventual champions (Nuggets) in the West finals.

But the eighth-place teams in the playoffs have historically fared a little better. In 1999, the Knicks reached the NBA Finals, albeit during a lockout season, and last year, as already mentioned, their success was repeated by Jimmy Butler’s Miami. After passing Boston in a tense seven-game series, the Heat competed for the championship with Denver, but lost 1-4. With Game 3 against the Celtics, they also became the first eighth seed to win by 25 points or more in the playoffs.

At the same time, the situation where the first seed loses to the eighth seed in the first round is not surprising for the NBA. Before the Heat and Milwaukee, this happened four times: in 1994 (Nuggets and SuperSonics), 1999 (Knicks and Heat), 2007 (Warriors and Mavericks) and 2011 (“Grizzlies” and “Spurs”). But the Bucks were not only the first classified, but they were the winningest team during the season. It is the third time since the beginning of the 21st century that the regular season champion has been eliminated in the round of 16.

Results of regular season winners in the playoffs.

Photo: “Championship”

Who did the highest ranked teams lose to?

Photo: “Championship”

Furthermore, in the East, in 8 of the last 10 seasons, the following pattern has been observed: whoever beats the winner of the regular season in the playoffs eventually becomes the conference champion and advances to the NBA Finals . Does all this mean that New York will beat Boston this season and then compete for the trophy with the Oklahoma City Thunder? Of course not. The objective of this material was to follow the general direction of the league with the entry into force of the new collective agreement, and not to predict the champion of 2024. But it is still possible to make a small prediction based only on the results of the previous 10 seasons.

Prediction for the playoffs of the 2023/2024 NBA season

Photo: “Championship”

Of course, the reality of the playoff bracket will likely be different, as decade-long averages don’t tell the full story. Especially now, when the NBA has no clear favorites, like the Warriors and Cavaliers in the mid-2010s or Chicago in the 1990s. However, 97.4% of the championship teams were in the top 3 of their conference at the end of the regular season. However, only 67.4% obtained first place.

On the one hand, this is logical. The best teams dominate throughout the championship and then fight among themselves for the trophy. But in this situation, the key to success is stability. Therefore, those who at the end of the regular season have not established themselves in the playoff zone usually begin to depend on the tank and lottery picks. Teams have the impression that the season is obviously lost and all the thoughts of the players, the coaching staff and the management are redirected to the next one. We all saw how the Mavericks deliberately stayed out of the play-in last year to retain a top-10 protected first-round pick. Through a trade with Oklahoma, this pick became Derek Lively, meaning the strategy worked. For just $750,000 (in the form of a sinking fine), Dallas received a promising young center, even if he remained out of the playoffs. And what lesson can be learned from this?

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Tank works. And this is the main reason why entertainment is declining, and with it the relevance of the regular season. It has already been mentioned that in the last 10 years no eighth place team has made it past the first round. Why should they fight, try to maintain positions, play additional matches, if in February they can give up, slide down the table and thus gain an additional asset in the form of a lottery pick? And it’s not just mediocre teams that resort to such tricks. If a contender suddenly loses a key player due to injury, he also doesn’t hesitate to finish the championship somehow and try again next year.

Miami’s breakthrough last year confirms that it is still possible to beat the system. That not everyone wants to adapt from one season to another and wait for the right moment, if results can be achieved here and now. But if the best team in the East in the playoffs at the end of the regular season only placed seventh, this, again, is not an argument in favor of the importance of the latter. If the eight teams making the playoffs could compete on relatively equal terms for rings, it would be a different story. But for now the situation is such that the NBA will still have to think about solving this problem.

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The conclusion of all this can be drawn as follows: watch the NBA playoffs. If you recently watched a game hoping to see some good basketball, but wished you’d gone to bed instead, we guarantee things will be completely different in the postseason. The quality of the game, and especially the defense, grows with each series. This is the best that the world’s main league can offer its viewers. And if you want to enjoy this spectacle, tune in to the broadcasts starting April 20, the day the 2024 playoffs begin. Well, for high-quality analysis and the latest news, contact the “Championship” – we will actively cover all the events of the end of the NBA season.

More content from the author of this material can be found on the Basketball Arena Telegram channel.

* This website provides news content gathered from various internet sources. It is crucial to understand that we are not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, or reliability of the information presented Read More

Puck Henry
Puck Henry
Puck Henry is an editor for ePrimefeed covering all types of news.
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