NBA board of governors OKs realignment plan

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 18, 2003

NEW YORK - The NBA's board of governors approved a realignment plan Monday that creates three divisions of five teams each in the Eastern and Western conferences.

The expansion Charlotte Bobcats, the NBA's 30th team, were placed in the Eastern Conference and the New Orleans Hornets were moved to the Western Conference. The Hornets previously played in Charlotte before moving to New Orleans two seasons ago.

Joining the new Charlotte franchise in the Southeast Division of the Eastern Conference will be Atlanta, Miami, Orlando and Washington. The Central Division will have Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Indiana and Milwaukee. Atlantic Division teams will be Boston, New Jersey, New York, Philadelphia and Toronto.

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New Orleans will play in the Southwest Division of the Western Conference with Dallas, Houston, Memphis and San Antonio. The Northwest Division will have Denver, Minnesota, Portland, Seattle and Utah. The Pacific Division teams are Golden State, the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, Phoenix and Sacramento.

Teams will play divisional opponents twice at home and twice on the road. They will play conference opponents outside their division three or four times, and teams from the other conference twice - at home and away.

Divisional winners each earn a playoff berth. The remaining five playoff berths for each conference will be based on regular-season records with no regard to divisional alignment.

Home-court advantage throughout the playoffs will be based solely on regular-season records. That means a divisional winner will not necessarily have home court advantage in the playoff series.