Of the 15 teams in each conference, the top eight will receive playoff seeds. This means 16 out of the 30 teams in the league will make the playoffs. Because the playoffs are divided by conference, a team from one conference can make the playoffs with a worse record than a non-playoff team from the other conference.
In the past, seeding has been partially determined by division champions. There are currently four divisions in each conference, and in past years the division champions would be seeded higher than other teams as a reward for winning their division. However, this idea has been scrapped, and the current playoff seeding format relies solely on each team's win-loss record. This ensures the two best teams in each conference will not meet until the Conference Finals.
Seeding is important for a fixed bracket because teams can predict who they might match up against in future rounds. In the first round, the seeding matchups are #1 and #8, #2 and #7, #3 and #6, and #4 and #5.
The higher-seeded team in each matchup will receive home court advantage. This means they will play four out of the potential seven games of the series at home (games 1, 2, 5, and 7). Home court advantage rewards teams for having better regular season records.
The NBA Playoffs follow a fixed-bracket, 7-7-7-7 tournament. This means there is no re-seeding after each of the four rounds and that each round is comprised of a best-of-seven series. In the past, three- and five-game series were used in earlier rounds.
The first round reduces the field of 16 teams down to eight. Next, the conference semifinals reduce it to four, and then the conference finals determine which two teams will compete in the Finals.
The NBA Finals are the highest level of competition in the sport of basketball. The best team from each conference meet, and the winners are crowned "World Champions". This best-of-seven series used to follow a 2-3-2 home court advantage format, but has recently changed to the 2-2-1-1-1 structure that is used throughout the rest of the playoffs.