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The National Basketball Association is the pre-eminent men’s professional basketball league in North America, and is widely considered to be the premier men’s professional basketball league in the world. It has 30 teams, and is an active member of USA Basketball, which is recognized by FIBA as the national governing body for basketball in the United States. The NBA is one of the four major North American professional sports leagues. NBA players are the world’s best paid sportsmen, by average annual salary per player.
NBA Playoffs begin in late April, with eight teams in each conference competing for the Championship. The three division winners, along with the team with the next best record from the conference are given the top four seeds. The next four teams in terms of record are given the lower four seeds.
Having a higher seed offers several advantages. Since the first seed begins the playoffs playing against the eighth seed, the second seed plays the seventh seed, the third seed plays the sixth seed, and the fourth seed plays the fifth seed, having a higher seed means a team faces a weaker team in the first round. The team in each series with the better record has home court advantage, including the First Round. This means that, for example, if the team who receives the 6 seed has a better record than the team with the 3 seed (by virtue of a divisional championship), the 6 seed would have home court advantage, even though the other team has a higher seed. Therefore, the team with the best regular season record in the league is guaranteed home court advantage in every series it plays. For example, in 2006, the Denver Nuggets won 44 games and captured the Northwest Division and the #3 seed. Their opponent was the #6 seed Los Angeles Clippers, who won 47 games and finished second in the Pacific Division. Although Denver won its much weaker division, the Clippers had home-court advantage and won the series in 5.