The NBA has changed their rules on how playoffs will be seeded. Instead of rewarding Division winners with a top 4 position like they have in the past, the seedings will be determined solely on win-loss record. Why is the league making this change?
A new spotlight was put on the issue when the Los Angeles Clippers met the San Antonio Spurs in a thrilling first round series this postseason. The Spurs would have played the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round if the seeds were determined by wins and losses, but they were instead stuck playing Los Angeles because the Portland Trail Blazers were granted the No. 4 seed as a division winner. The Blazers won 51 games while Memphis and San Antonio each won 55.
So how does this impact the Celtics? Glad you asked!
With the Atlantic Division not expected to be a powerhouse this season, the old seeding format might have afforded Boston an opportunity to sneak into the top half of the East playoff seedings by simply finishing ahead of a four-team pack (Toronto, New York, Brooklyn and Philadelphia). The new seeding format closes that loophole.
Personally I'm happy for the change. Yes, it is possible it could have benefited the Celtics if they won the Atlantic and finished behind some other teams in the standings. But on the whole it just makes more sense from a matchup perspective to rank teams according to their performance. The Divisions don't mean anything anymore and trying to manufacture rivalries didn't really have the impact the league was looking for.
We don't raise banners for Division Championships anyway.