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2010 NBA Playoff Tiebreakers

Apr 11, 2010 – 11:48 PM
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Tom Ziller

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In the final few days of the season, teams jockey for seeds and -- in two cities, Chicago and Toronto -- berths. Teams often end up with identical records. In those cases, the NBA turns to a set of tiebreakers in order to figure out first-round pairings.

This is how everything sets up for the 2010 season.

In the East ...

Cleveland is the Central Division champion and will be the No. 1 seed in the East. Orlando is the Southeast Division champ and will be the No. 2 seed in the East.

If Atlanta and Boston end the season with identical records, the Celtics will win the No. 3 seed based on being champions of the Atlantic Division. (Division winners cannot be seeded below non-division winners with identical records. This takes precedence over Atlanta's 4-0 record against Boston this season.) Neither Atlanta nor Boston can be seeded lower than No. 4.

If Milwaukee and Miami end the season with identical records, the Bucks will win the No. 5 seed based on a 3-1 record against the Heat in the season series between the teams.

If Milwaukee and Charlotte end the season with identical records, the Bucks will win the No. 6 seed due to a better conference record. Milwaukee cannot be seeded lower than No. 6.

If Miami and Charlotte end the season with identical records, the Bobcats will win the No. 6 seed based on a 3-1 record against the Heat this season. Neither Miami or Charlotte can be seeded lower than No. 7.

If Chicago and Toronto end the season with identical records, the Raptors will win the No. 8 seed based on a 2-1 record against the Bulls this season.

All other Eastern Conference teams have been eliminated from playoff contention.

In the West ...

Los Angeles (the Lakers, not the Clippers) is the Pacific Division champion and will be the No. 1 seed in the West.

If Dallas and Denver are tied, Dallas wins (2-1 season series win).

If Dallas and Utah are tied, Utah wins (2-1 season series win).

If Dallas, Utah and Denver are all tied, Dallas gets No. 2, Denver gets No. 3 and Utah gets No. 4. (If Denver and Utah end the season with identical records, Denver will be the Northwest Division champion based on a 3-1 record against the Jazz this season. As Dallas cannot be seeded below a non-division winner, its division crown would take precedence over the Jazz's season series victory. Its own season series victory over Denver would ensure the No. 2 seed.)

If Dallas and Phoenix are tied, Dallas wins (division title).

If Dallas, Phoenix and Utah are tied with better records than Denver, Utah gets No. 2, Dallas gets No. 3 and Phoenix gets No. 4. If Denver has the second-best record and Dallas, Phoenix and Utah are tied for No. 3, it goes Dallas-Utah-Phoenix due to the Mavs' division title.

If Dallas, Phoenix and Denver are tied, Dallas gets No. 2, Denver gets No. 3 and Phoenix gets No. 4.

If Dallas, Phoenix, Denver and Utah are tied, Dallas gets No. 2 seed, Denver gets No. 3 seed, Utah gets No. 4 seed and Phoenix gets No. 5.

If Denver and Utah end the season tied, Denver wins (3-1 season series win).

If Denver and Phoenix are tied ahead of the Jazz, Denver wins (division title). If Denver and Phoenix end the season tied behind the Jazz, Denver wins (conference record).

If Denver, Phoenix and Utah are tied, Denver wins the top seed and the winner of Wednesday's Phoenix-Utah game wins the next seed.

If Utah and Phoenix are tied ahead of Denver, Utah wins (division title). If Utah and Phoenix are tied behind Denver, the winner of Wednesday's Phoenix-Utah game wins the No. 3 seed.

Denver, Utah, Phoenix and Dallas can be seeded no lower than No. 5.

If Oklahoma City and San Antonio are tied, San Antonio wins (3-1 season series).

If Oklahoma City and Portland are tied, the winner of Monday's game between the pair wins.

If San Antonio and Portland are tied, Portland wins.

If San Antonio, Portland and Oklahoma City are tied, it goes Portland-San Antonio-Oklahoma City.
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