Rajon Rondo of the Boston Celtics puts up a shot against Tyrus Thomas, Joakim Noah, and Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls during the 2009 NBA Playoffs
The Boston Celtics’ Rajon Rondo puts up a shot against Tyrus Thomas, Joakim Noah, and Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls during the 2009 NBA Playoffs | Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

First implemented in 1984, the NBA Playoffs’ current format involves 16 teams competing in four rounds. The first round was best-of-five until 2003 when it became a best-of-seven matchup. Since the 2016 playoffs, the top six teams in the Eastern and Western Conferences qualify according to their win-loss records.

The coronavirus pandemic changed how teams qualify for the NBA Playoffs as the league managed two shortened seasons. Now, the play-in tournament grants two teams with playoff seeds No. 7 and No. 8 employing a four-team, three-game format.


  • Number of participating teams: 16
  • Rounds: four
  • Format: best of seven games
  • Most NBA Playoff appearances: Los Angeles Lakers (63)
  • Least NBA Playoff appearances: New Orleans Pelicans (7)
  • Longest NBA Playoff drought: Sacramento Kings (last appearance: 2005-06)
  • Longest active NBA Playoff appearance streak: Portland Trail Blazers (8 consecutive playoffs since 2013-14)
  • Longest NBA Playoff streak ever: San Antonio Spurs and Philadelphia 76ers (22 consecutive seasons)

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