NBA’s New Tie-Breaker Rule Gives The Portland Trail Blazers An Advantage To Make The Playoffs

Photo Credit: Bruce Ely / Trail Blazers

NBA’s New Tie-Breaker Rule Gives The Portland Trail Blazers An Advantage To Make The Playoffs


Last week, the NBA has officially announced the restart of the season in late July at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. The resumption of the season will undergo a new format of 22-team plan which includes 13 Western Conference teams and nine teams of the Eastern Conference. 

The format is introducing an eight regular-season game structure among 22 participants and a possible play-in tournament, if the ninth seed is within four games of the eighth seed. 

Since these teams have a varying number of games, if somehow a tie occurs for the ninth seed in the West, a tie-breaker procedure decided by the overall winning percentage comes into place to determine which team takes the ninth spot.

Interestingly, this new rule gives the Portland Trail Blazers a built-in advantage among other teams looking to make the playoffs. Tim Bontemps of ESPN explains the possible tie-breaker scenario that could possibly happen and how the Blazers will get the nod if such thing takes place.


So, for example: The Trail Blazers, Pelicans and Kings are currently tied for ninth place in the Western Conference standings and are each eight games under .500. The Trail Blazers, however, have played 66 games (29-37), and the Pelicans and Kings have played 64 (28-36). As a result, Portland is one one-thousandth of a point ahead of both the Pelicans and Kings in winning percentage heading into Orlando.

Because the NBA chose to use winning percentage to break ties, if Portland has the same record as either New Orleans or Sacramento in Orlando — and, thus, the same number of games at or under .500 for the season — Portland will finish ahead of them despite having been swept by the Pelicans this season and having tied Sacramento.

The eighth-place Memphis Grizzlies have played 65 games — meaning they can’t finish in a tie with any of the three teams closest behind them under any circumstances.


Following this, if the Trail Blazers take the ninth seed because of the tie-breaker rule, a play-in tournament against the eight-seeded Memphis Grizzlies for the last playoff spot will only happen if two teams are within four games.

In a play-in tournament situation predicated by double-elimination rules, the Blazers will have to beat the Grizzlies twice in order to steal the eight spot and enter the playoffs. On the other hand, the Grizzlies would only have to defeat the Blazers once.

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