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What are the 6 NBA divisions?

Divisions are frequently neglected in the NBA. People always pay more attention to the Eastern and Western Conferences and have little idea that divisions play a major role in determining the schedule and matches of teams.

What are the 6 NBA divisions? These are the 6 divisions in the NBA: Atlantic, Central, Southeast (Eastern Conference) and Northwest, Pacific, Southwest (Western Conference). In each of these divisions, 5 teams are split equally, fighting for the playoffs spots.

For ease of reference we have put all the NBA Teams and their respective NBA Divisions and NBA Conferences in a table below:

NBA TeamNBA DivisionNBA Conference
Boston CelticsAtlantic DivisionEastern Conference
Brooklyn NetsAtlantic DivisionEastern Conference
New York KnicksAtlantic DivisionEastern Conference
Philidelphia 76rsAtlantic DivisionEastern Conference
Toronto RaptorsAtlantic DivisionEastern Conference
Chicago BullsCentral DivisionEastern Conference
Cleveland CavaliersCentral DivisionEastern Conference
Detriot PistonsCentral DivisionEastern Conference
Indiana PacersCentral DivisionEastern Conference
Milwaulke BucksCentral DivisionEastern Conference
Denver NuggetsNorthwest DivisionWestern Conference
Minnestoa TimberwolvesNorthwest DivisionWestern Conference
Oklahoma City ThunderNorthwest DivisionWestern Conference
Portland TrailblazersNorthwest DivisionWestern Conference
Utah JazzNorthwest DivisionWestern Conference
Golden State WarriorsPacific DivisionWestern Conference
LA ClippersPacific DivisionWestern Conference
Los Angeles LakersPacific DivisionWestern Conference
Phoenix SunsPacific DivisionWestern Conference
Sacramento KingsPacific DivisionWestern Conference
Atlanta HawksSoutheast DivisionEastern Conference
Charotte HornetsSoutheast DivisionEastern Conference
Miami HeatSoutheast DivisionEastern Conference
Orlando MagicSoutheast DivisionEastern Conference
Washington WizardsSoutheast DivisionEastern Conference
Dallas MavericksSouthwest DivisionWestern Conference
Houston RocketsSouthwest DivisionWestern Conference
Memphis GrizzliesSouthwest DivisionWestern Conference
New Orleans PelicansSouthwest DivisionWestern Conference
San Antonio SpursSouthwest DivisionWestern Conference

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Winning a particular division is not as massively celebrated as winning a specific conference, but it is always motivating to beat other, “local” teams and clinch the first title of the season. In this article, we will talk more about each division and teams that are playing inside. 

General Overview

The essence of divisions is to create an equal playing field for each team and create parity. The majority of teams are sorted by their strength in divisions. Before we move to divisions, we should recall that the NBA is split into 2 conferences: Eastern and Western. There are 15 teams in each and the 8 best teams from each conference play in the playoffs. Winners of divisions get preference in tiebreakers Vs teams with the same record as them.

Eastern Conference

As we have already mentioned above, the Eastern Conference is divided into 3 divisions that are:

  • Atlantic
  • Central
  • Southeast

Let’s review each of them and the teams that are playing against each other.

Atlantic Division

The Atlantic Division consists of the following teams: the Philadelphia 76ers, the Toronto Raptors, the Boston Celtics, the Brooklyn Nets and the New York Knicks. In terms of strength and competitiveness, this division is pretty strong as there are 4 powerful teams with a bunch of stars. These are teams right now that can compete for the top spot in the Eastern Conference and fight for the championship title in the upcoming 2021/2022 season.

Central Division 

In the Central Division, there are the following teams: the Detroit Pistons, the Milwaukee Bucks, the Indiana Pacers, the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Chicago Bulls. The Milwaukee Bucks are undoubtedly the best team, as recent champions of the 2020/2021 season, defeating the Phoenix Suns in the Finals. With Giannis Antetokounmpo in the roster, the Bucks are one of the favourites again to win more NBA championships in the years to come.

Southeast Division

The Southeast Division has the following teams: the Atlanta Hawks, the Orlando Magic, the Miami Heat, the Charlotte Hornets and the Washington Wizards. Thestrongest team in this Divisionis the Miami Heat. They still have a strong culture and an experienced coach in Eric Spoelstra, who knows how to get the most out of his team having won titles before and recently dragged the Heat to the NBA Bubble Finals in 2020. Despite the Hawks Eastern Finals birth in 2021, the Trae young led youth movement aren’t to be considered serious contenders (yet!). The Magic, Wizards and Hornets are all at various stages of rebuilding ther rosters.

Western Conference 

As we have talked about the Eastern Conference, now we should move to its counterpart out West where the 3 divisions are:

Northwest Division

In the Northwest Division, we can witness the following teams: the Utah Jazz, the Denver Nuggets, the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Portland Trail Blazers and the Minnesota Timberwolves. Well, the Jazz and the Nuggets are clearly better than the other ones right now. They have balanced squads and MVP contenders, such as Nikola Jokic. The Blazers, with clinical Damian Lillard in the squad, are always a force to be reckoned with. This is a pretty competitive division in the Western Conference.

Pacific Division 

The Pacific Division contains the following 5 teams: the Los Angeles Clippers, the Los Angeles Lakers, the Golden State Warriors, the Sacramento Kings and the Phoenix Suns. Both teams from Los Angeles are major contenders for first place in the Western Conference and can have a claim on winning the championship title – if their stars can stay healthy. Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors is one of the best players in the division. We should not forget the Phoenix Suns – the team which made it to the Finals in the 2020/2021 season but were eventually beaten by the Milwaukee Bucks and project to have an even brighter future going forward led by Young stars Devan Booker and Deandre Ayton.

Southwest Division

In the Southwest Division, there are the Houston Rockets, the San Antonio Spurs, the Dallas Mavericks, the Memphis Grizzlies and the New Orleans Pelicans. The latter 2 were the latest to join the division after relocating from other cities. 

This is perhaps the weakest division right now although boasts some of the brigtest future stars. Luka Doncic has been incredible for the Dallas Mavericks in his short time in the league. Ja Morant is destined to lead the Grizzlies to many exciting playoff games. The Pelicans have Zion Williamson, who if he can remain fit, is going to be the biggest star in the NBA once he matures. The Rockets and the Spurs from Texas are still rebuilding after periods of sustained success came to an end.

How do divisions affect the number of games?

Inside particular divisions, each team plays four times against their rivals, 2 home and 2 away. As for the teams in the same conference, they play against some conference opponents 3 times and twice against the teams from the other conference. At the same time, divisions are pivotal in the sense that if clubs have equal win-loss records, then the winners of divisions have the advantage in tiebreakers. 

How would an expansion affect the divisions? 

There have been frequent discussions about expansion in the NBA, which basically means adding more teams in each Conference. If such a thing ever happens, we will likely get 4 divisions instead of 3. There is also an idea that the divisions could mix with each conference but so far no official statements have been made. In a nutshell, an expansion would significantly impact the current status and structure of divisions. Potentially even seeing them erased entirely.

NBA Divisions Map

Have you ever wondered how the NBA Divisions are split on a map across North America? We have looked into this and put together an NBA Divisions Map below. The map highlights how the divisions are split between the Western Conference and the Eastern Conference, as well as geographically. At a quick glance you can see that the North West Division, Pacific Division and South West Division belong to the Western Conference. The Atlantic Division, Central Division and South East Divisions belong to the Eastern Conference.

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