The NBA is changing the way teams are seeded in the postseason, looking to avoid the controversy that surrounded last season's playoffs.
Starting in the upcoming season, the top four seeds -- the three division winners and the second-place team with the best record -- will be seeded according to their win-loss total, guaranteeing that the top two teams in each conference can't meet until the conference finals, the league announced Wednesday.
The NBA had given the top three seeds to division winners regardless of record, meaning a second-place team could not do better than the No. 4 seed, even if it had a better record than a division champion.
That rule came under fire last season when division rivals San Antonio and Dallas were forced to meet in the second round of the Western Conference playoffs, even though the second-place Mavericks had a far better record than division champions Phoenix or Denver.
Dallas knocked off the first-place Spurs in a thrilling matchup of 60-game winners, capturing Game 7 on the road in overtime.
The league's board of governors also voted to expand the postseason rosters to 15, instead of 13, with 12 players active for each game. That duplicates the rule used in the regular season.
The NBA champion Miami Heat were among those that criticized the policy that forced teams to carry fewer players in the playoffs than during the season.
Also, if a team has two 60-second timeouts left in the final two minutes of regulation or in overtime, one will be reduced to a 20-second timeout. Teams will now have two 60-second timeouts and one lasting 20 seconds in overtime, instead of three one-minute timeouts. Clubs will no longer be permitted to carry over a 20-second timeout from regulation into overtime.
"Our owners are intent on making the playoff seeding more fair for all teams going forward and in quickening the pace of the end of games," NBA executive vice president Stu Jackson said in a statement. "The board also thought it made sense to allow teams to utilize the same 15-man roster in the playoffs that they use during
the regular season."