The 2019-20 NBA season will finally resume this July with a 22-team format, with 13 teams in the Western Conference and nine teams from the Eastern Conference. Each team will play eight “seeding” games to determine the final lineup for the 2020 postseason.
However, they are entering Orlando with varying number of games. To address this disparity, the NBA will use winning percentage to determine the final playoff standings, per Tim Bontemps of ESPN.
This wrinkle will come in handy in case a tie occurs. The NBA’s chosen format figures to give the Portland Trail Blazers the edge among the teams looking to book their ticket for one of the possible play-in spots.
Portland held a 29-37 record when the NBA went on hiatus, which accounts for 66 games. Meanwhile, the two teams within the Blazers’ vicinity, the Sacramento Kings and New Orleans Pelicans, had identical 28-36 marks, accounting for 64 contests. The other two West teams, the San Antonio Spurs and Phoenix Suns, held 27-36 and 26-39 records, respectively, at the time of the NBA’s suspension.
Portland, Sacramento, and New Orleans are all currently 3.5 games below the eighth-seeded Memphis Grizzlies. If this somehow holds after those eight seeding games, the Blazers would get the nod over the other two teams because of the slightly higher winning percentage (.439 to .438), despite getting swept by the Pelicans this season.
In order to get the chance for a play-in spot, the No. 9 seed must be within four games of the No. 8 seed. The Blazers were the lone team to not vote for this particular format when the NBA made its decision on how to go about the rest of the season. This slight advantage, at the very least, should give them something to smile about heading into Disney World.