NBA Playoffs Bracket and Format 2023 – How Do the NBA Playoffs Work

It’s that time of the year again with NBA Playoffs upon us. The time to forget about load management, or minute restrictions, the time to give it your all and leave everything you have out there. It’s showtime and below we give you a more detailed look at how the NBA Playoffs Format works.

NBA Playoffs Explained

The NBA Playoffs start on April 15th with the opening rounds in both conferences. The top 6 teams from each Conference are already known and have their rightful place in the main NBA 2023 Playoff Bracket. There are 2 more places for grabs in each Conference and the teams seeded 7th to 10th both East and West will be fighting for them in the introduced with great success during the COVID-era play-in tournament. We start our explanation of how the NBA Playoffs work exactly with the dissection of this relatively new feature of the post-season.

Play-in Tournament

The NBA post-season begins with the Play-In tournament that will take place between April 11-14. It sees the teams seeded 7th to 10th in each Conference fight for the last 4 available playoff spots. This new feature of the NBA Playoff Bracket introduced first only for the 2020-21 season, has been a huge success and produced some dramatic games already in its short history.

The rules are simple, especially for the teams seeded 9th and 10th, as for them it’s winning or go home time. What happens first is the 7th and 8th seeds face each other in a single-game showdown hosted by the higher-ranked team. The winner takes the 7th spot in the Playoff Bracket and starts to prepare for a clash against the number 2 seed. Next the 9th and 10th seed play in an identical one-game showdown, in both conferences. The loser goes home, while the winner plays the loser of the 7th-8th clash for the final spot in the Playoff Bracket in another one-game-winner-takes-it-all clash.

If you want to know more about how the NBA Play-In Tournament works, click here.

NBA Playoff Bracket

The proper NBA Playoff Bracket is formed then and the battle to be crowned champions begins on April 15th. This is the time when true basketball, as many avid fans label it, begins to be played. The time when the men get the better of the boys and when everyone leaves their all on the court.

NBA Playoff Bracket
Memphis Grizzlies guard Desmond Bane (R) and Miami Heat guard Kyle Lowry (L)in action during the first half of the NBA basketball game between the Miami Heat and the Memphis Grizzlies at the Miami-Dade Arena in Miami, Florida, USA, 15 March 2023. Efe/ABACAPRESS.COM//RHONA WISE – Photo by Icon sport

The teams in the NBA are split into 2 conferences – Eastern Conference and Western Conference – based on their geographical location.

Come playoff time the top 8 seeds from each conference begin to play best of 7 series against each other. The rules are simple, the top seed plays the 8th seed, the 2nd seed plays the 7th seed, the 3rd seed the 6th and the 4th the 5th. The higher-ranked team has home-court advantage in every round of the playoffs. This means that if there is a game 7 the better regular season team will host that. Also, the higher-ranked team hosts the first 2 games of every matchup, then travels for the next, hosts the 5th match if it’s necessary, and so on.

After the initial round of the NBA Playoff Bracket is completed each Conference have 2 more rounds before crowning the Conference champions, who then face each other for the ultimate price – the NBA Title. In round 2 the winner of the matchup involving the 1st seed team faces the winner of the 4th-5th matchup. In the other duel the winner of the matchup involving the 2nd seed squares against the winner of the matchup with the 3rd seed.

The final round sees the 2 remaining teams in each Conference battle for the right to make it to the NBA Finals. Come to the Finals the team with the better win-loss record during the regular season gets the home-court advantage.

If you want to know more about the exact NBA Playoff Schedule and Dates we have that for you too.

NBA Playoffs First-Round Matchups

The NBA Playoffs are upon us and here we’ll give you a quick preview of what we think will be the most interesting first-round matchups.

Eastern Conference

We think that the Boston Celtics could be in for a very tough first-round matchup if as expected the Miami Heat win their play-in match. The Celtics come in as the 2nd seed so naturally they should be hot favourites to win against whoever comes up against them as the 7th seed. However, if that’s the Heat this duel could promise some fireworks.

Anyone that has ever played against the Play-off-Jimmy-Butler has said the same thing: “Don’t want to meet that guy ever again.” With Bam Adebayo also in very good form since the All-Star-Break we think the Heat might ruffle some feathers even if they ultimately fail to win 4 games against Celtics.

Western Conference

The West is wide open and pretty much all of the top 6 seeded teams + the late-risers Lakers have a case to make a deep run. However, our pick for the most exciting first-round matchup has to be the 4th-5th seed duel between the star-studded Phoenix Suns and LA Clippers.

The Suns threw everything to acquire Kevin Durant mid-season and go for it. They have Devin Booker playing at an All-Star level and Chris Paul with his vast experience to orchestrate things. However, they now face up against a team that is even deeper and we think the Clippers can actually win this matchup. Even without the injured Paul George, the Clippers have tons of players that can guard multiple positions. Kawhi Leonard is a top-class player and he will give Booker an awful time for certain. Russel Westbrook seems to be back to his best and should be able to dominate in a direct matchup against Paul. Batum is an excellent defender and we can see him keeping Durant at bay. Zubac is a better centre than Ayton. On top of all that the Clippers have a deep, deep bench.

In any case, we think this matchup won’t be decided in 4 or 5 games, so buckle up, prepare the chicken fry, cool the beer and enjoy the NBA Playoffs.

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About the author


Iskra had a promising, at least she believed so, tennis and volleyball careers as a junior but a series of injuries ended her hopes to become a professional athlete very early.

Instead, she focused all her energy on her other passion, writing. For over a decade, Iskra had been a freelance sports writer. Football, basketball and tennis are the main fields of her expertise.