Monday , Nov , 17 , 2003 C.Y. Ellis

NBA expanding to six divisions next season

New York, NY (Sports Network) – NBA Commissioner David Stern announced Monday
that the league’s Board of Governors approved a realignment plan that will
take effect with the start of the 2004-05 season.

The NBA’s newest member, the Charlotte Bobcats, will tip off its inaugural
season as part of the Eastern Conference, while the New Orleans Hornets will
move from the Eastern to the Western Conference.

Each conference will now have 15 clubs comprised of three divisions of five

The Eastern Conference will consist of the Atlantic Division (Boston Celtics,
New Jersey Nets, New York Knicks, Philadelphia 76ers, Toronto Raptors),
Central Division (Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons, Indiana
Pacers, Milwaukee Bucks) and Southeast Division (Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte
Bobcats, Miami Heat, Orlando Magic, Washington Wizards).

The three divisions in the Western Conference will be the Southwest Division
(Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets, Memphis Grizzlies, New Orleans Hornets,
San Antonio Spurs), Northwest Division (Denver Nuggets, Minnesota
Timberwolves, Portland Trail Blazers, Seattle SuperSonics, Utah Jazz) and
Pacific Division (Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles
Lakers, Phoenix Suns, Sacramento Kings).

Under the new plan, teams will play division opponents four times each (twice
at home and twice on the road), conference opponents outside the division
three or four times each and opponents outside the conference two times apiece
(once at home and once on the road).

The three regular season division winners in each conference will earn a
playoff berth and one of the conference’s top three playoff seeds based on
regular season record. The remaining five playoff spots for each conference
will be based on regular season records with no regard to division alignment.

Home-court advantage throughout the NBA playoffs will be based solely on
regular season record, not playoff seeding. Therefore, a division winner that
has a higher playoff seeding than an opponent will not necessarily have home-
court advantage in the postseason series.