Divisions are frequently neglected in the NBA. People always pay more attention to Eastern and Western Conferences and they 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.
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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 teams and clinch the first title. In this article, we will talk more about each division and teams that are playing inside.
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 8 best teams from each conference play in the playoffs. Winners of division and teams with better records get preference in tiebreakers.
As we have already mentioned above, the Eastern Conference is divided into 3 divisions that are:
Let’s review each of them and the teams that are playing against each other.
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 the 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.
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, and they are reigning champions of the 2020/2021 season, defeating the Phoenix Suns in the Finals. With Giannis Antetokounmpo in the roster, the Bucks are favourites again to win the NBA championship title one more time.
The Southeast Division has the following teams: the Atlanta Hawks, the Orlando Magic, the Miami Heat, the Charlotte Hornets and the Washington Wizards. This is a division, where teams have fewer chances of participating in the playoffs except the Heat. They still have a strong squad and an experienced coach Eric Spoelstra, who knows how to get the most out of his team. The departure of Russell Westbrook from the Wizards to the Los Angeles Lakers will weaken the division even further.
As we have talked about the Eastern Conference, now we should move to its counterpart where the 3 divisions are:
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.
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. 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.
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 if we do not take into account Luka Doncic’s magic performance. This youngster is a real wonder not only in the Dallas Mavericks but the rest of the NBA as well. At 22, Doncic has already impressed numerous spectators around the world.
How do divisions affect the number of games?
Inside particular divisions, each team plays four times against their rivals. 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 and better record-holders have an 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.