Thoughts on the Expanded D-League Playoff Format

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Last year, the BayHawks qualified for the playoffs in their first D-League season. That's quite an achievement for an expansion franchise, even in a league of where 8 of the 16 teams qualify for the postseason.

Unfortunately, the fans in Erie didn't get to enjoy their team's playoff berth as Erie's playoff experience was a one-and-done game halfway across the country against the eventual D-League champion Colorado 14ers. And just like that, Erie's season was over.

If the BayHawks are fortunate enough to make a return trip to the postseason in their second season, the fans and the team will be guaranteed at least one home game thanks to the D-League's decision to expand its playoff format for the 2009-10 season.

This year's playoffs will feature a best-of-three series in each of the three rounds. In the past, only the championship round was a best of three series while the quarter- and semi-final rounds were one-and-done matchups. In each round, the lower-seeded team will host game one. Then the higher-seeded team will host game two and, if necessary, game three. While this means additional travel costs, I think it's a great move by the D-League, ensureing that every playoff team gets to reap the benefits of hosting at least one playoff game.

I think it's good from a basketball perspective, too. March Madness is the place for one-and-dones. The pro game has always thrived with playoff series. Just look back at Bulls-Celtics last year and imagine if we'd been robbed of games 2-6. The new series format means more basketball, and that's something we can all support.

Despite realigning the league's 16 teams from three divisions to two conferences this season, the D-League will not have conference-based playoff qualification or seeding. The top team from each conference will qualify, but the other six playoff spots are up for grabs based on the best win-loss records. It'll be interesting to see how the new unbalanced schedules affect playoff qualification this season, as it figures that if one team faces a particularly bad team several times as part of a "rivalry," that could give them an leg up on the competition for playoff qualification.

One of the interesting wrinkles that the D-League tried out for the playoffs last season is back again this year. The top-seeded division winner will select its opponent first, followed by the second-ranked division winner selecting second and the wild card team with the best regular season record selecting third. The fourth-seeded team will play the remaining team.

The playoffs won't begin for another five months or so, but the D-League's decision to expand the playoff format has me looking forward to spring. Let's just hope the BayHawks perform well enough to be a part of the playoff mix come April.


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About this blog/blogger

Blog Talk BayHawk is an unofficial Erie BayHawks blog covering the NBA D-League. It features opinions and information about the NBADL and the Erie BayHawks. Blog Talk BayHawk is written from a basketball fan’s perspective to fill In the gaps left by professional journalists’ coverage of BayHawks basketball and the Erie professional basketball scene.

Matt Hubert is a 25-year-old writer and basketball fanatic born and raised in Erie, Pa. He graduated from Mercyhurst College in 2007 with a bachelor's degree in English and a dual concentration in writing and creative writing. Matt's not wavering from his stance as a lifelong Los Angeles Lakers fan, but he will cover the BayHawks' NBA affiliates in Cleveland and Toronto when it makes sense to do so throughout the year.

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