NBA Playoffs-featured image

How Do The NBA Playoffs Work?

The NBA playoffs are a tournament of professional basketball teams in the National Basketball Association. The tournament is composed of three rounds. One to determine which four teams from each conference will advance to the final round. In this blog post, we want to explain how the NBA playoffs work from start to finish and what it takes for a team wins them!

How Many Teams Make it to the NBA Playoffs?

The total number of NBA teams that make it to the NBA playoffs is 16 total. Since the NBA has 2 conferences, namely the EAST and the WEST, there will be a total of 8 teams per conference that will head to the playoffs.

teams in nba playoffs

The Play-In Tournament

The NBA Play-In Tournament is organized near the end of the regular season and the postseason start. The event aims to give the teams who rounded off the season between 7th to 10th in their different conferences an opportunity to secure a playoff berth.

The Play-In tournament offers a glimpse of the playoff drama before the postseason competition has even started. It was first played during the short-term 2020–2021 season, but it has earned a spot on the game calendar as a spectacular campaign addition. 

1. how does the play-in structure work?

At the conclusion of the regular season but before the first round of the playoffs, the team with the 7th-highest winning percentage in each conference will host the team with the 8th-highest winning percentage in a Play-In Game (the “Seven-Eight Game”). The winner of the Seven-Eight Game in each conference will earn the No. 7 seed.

The team with the 9th-highest winning percentage in each conference will host the team with the 10th-highest winning percentage in the “Nine-Ten Game”. The loser of the Seven-Eight Game will host the winner of the Nine-Ten Game in a Play-In Game, and the winner of that game in each conference will earn the No. 8 seed.

2. What happens to the winners of the Play-In Tournament?

The winners of the Play-In tournament will receive the 7th and 8th-seeded positions in each conference. Following the Play-In Tournament, the NBA Playoffs will commence with the traditional 16-team, best-of-seven series structure.

The Conference first round

This is the first stage of the NBA Playoff where the teams will battle their respective conference. The initial format will be the 1st seed vs 8th seed, 2nd vs 7th, 3rd vs 6th, 4th vs 5th.

This will be a best-of-seven game series where the 1st to 4th seeds have home court advantage.

The Conference Semi-Finals

The winners of the 1st round advance and get ready for a shot at going head to head with their respective number one seeds! The current format will be the bracket of 1st seed vs 4th seed and the 2nd seed vs 3rd seed.

The Conference Finals

This part of the NBA Playoffs determines who will face off against each other for an opportunity to go head to head with their respective number one seed teams for this year’s championship trophy… The conference finals are played out between another seven game series.

The teams that make it out of here are ready to face off in the final round which means we will crossover to the top team of the other conference.

The NBA Finals

The NBA Playoff finals

Only one team per conference can make it this far. This is where only one team gets crowned as champions of their respected conferences once a victor has been decided in each series. The NBA Finals is the most prestigious and the final stage of the tournament.

This is literally the top two teams out of the 30 NBA teams from each of their respective conference. Whoever wins this finals stage gets the bragging rights and an NBA Finals trophy!

NBA Playoffs Schedule (2023)

The NBA Playoffs occur in April up until June. If a team has an early exit from the NBA Playoffs, then they will be able to enjoy their summers as free agents until next season starts up again!

The schedule of games is released months before during the regular season. So teams know what days and times they play on throughout the season. This way players can make sure not to miss any games because someone else may take their spot if there’s no one around to fill in for them!

Here is the current NBA playoff schedule:

  • The playoffs will start after both the regular season and the play-in tournament.
  • The NBA regular season ends Sunday, April 9. The play-in tournament starts two days later on Tuesday, April 11 and concludes Friday, April 14. The playoffs start next next day on Saturday, April 15. All first games of the 8 first round matchups will be played either April 15 or 16.
  • The Conference Semi-Finals are scheduled to start May 1-2 (possibly April 29-30).
  • The Conference Finals are scheduled to start May 16-17 (possibly May 14-15).
  • The NBA finals start Thursday June 1, 2022 and potentially last until Sunday, June 18.
    • Game 1 – Thr,   June 1.
    • Game 2 – Sun,   June 4.
    • Game 3 – Wed,  June 7.
    • Game 4 – Fri,    June 9.
    • Game 5 – Mon, June 12 (if neccessary).
    • Game 6 – Thr,   June 15 (if neccessary).
    • Game 7 – Sun,  June 18 (if neccessary).

NBA Playoff Rules

The rules during the playoffs are no different from the regular season. Except that teams are only allowed 12 active players on their rosters with 3 rewserve players at one given time. There can’t be an unlimited number of inactive or bench spots but once you pass your limit.

Any player who gets injured and has already been ruled out for the entire season cannot play unless they get checked by a doctor and it is deemed safe for them to return!

NBA Playoff rules

If a player gets injured during a game, three possible outcomes are depending on how long the injury lasts. Either they will be pulled from play immediately or have absolutely no idea when he or she can come back which could lead to this person being ruled out for the rest of the playoffs.

Or if an injury occurs early in a match then it can drag on throughout all several games as well – so make sure you’re ready to go until your last breath because anything can happen at any given time!


We appreciate you taking the time to read our blog post regarding how the NBA playoffs operate. We sincerely hope that we were able to allay some of your worries or concerns and provide you with more information about what it takes to survive these rounds and emerge as the new NBA champion. This will demonstrate who is the real winner by standing triumphant over everyone else after competing against the best of them!

The NBA Playoffs are the most exciting time of year for basketball fans. Who do you think will make it to this year’s playoffs, and more importantly win the championship? Let us know your favorites in the comments below!


Enter your email to join our community.

Similar Posts