D-League Playoffs Expanding

The Colorado 14ers were your D-League champions last season.

The D-League announced today that its playoffs are expanding to include best-of-three series in both the first and second rounds.  Previously, those rounds had been a single-elimination format.  The league also announced that the top four seeds will select their opponents for the second year in a row.

Increasing the number of games seems like a smart move.  Every team will now get one home playoff game (the lower seed hosts the first game, the higher seed hosts the second and third), which means more money for them (although it also means increased travel costs).

As for the seeding, each division winner will get a spot along with the teams with the next six best records regardless of division.  The top division winner gets the first choice of opponent, followed by the other division winner and then the two other top-ranked teams.  I had thought the league might split the playoffs up by division and have the Western champ meet the Eastern champ in the finals, but given that Dakota and Sioux Falls are considered "Eastern" teams, this is just as well.  Of course, all that happened last season was that the #1 seed picked the #7 seed and #2 played #8, so we'll see if teams are encouraged to get a bit crazier this year.

It also raises the question as to whether this is a trial run for the NBA.  There was some discussion several years ago (that's died down since) about whether the NBA should seed it's playoff teams by record regardless of conference.  This was back when there would be one or two Eastern Conference playoff teams with records under .500 while talented Western teams were left out.  While the D-League began this "pick your opponent" system last year, there are two divisions now rather than three, so it matches up with the NBA's division organization a little more.  I doubt the NBA will move in that direction, but the D-League is (partly) about being a test lab for the NBA, so this could be a step closer to seeing more NBA playoff teams from one conference than the other at some point down the line.

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