The National Basketball Association has decided to change the way teams are seeded for the playoffs.
The league announced Wednesday that division champions will no longer be awarded a higher playoff seeding over a second-place team with a better record.
The NBA Board of Governors made the change after the San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Mavericks, rivals in the Southwest Division, had the two best records in the Western Conference but were seeded first and fourth and met in round two of this year's playoffs.
Dallas defeated the Spurs in seven games on the way to the NBA Finals, where the Mavericks lost to Miami.
Starting next season, instead of division winners claiming the three top seeds automatically, the top four seeds will go in order of regular season wins to the three division champions and the second-placed team with the best record.
The switch ensures the teams with the two best records in each conference over the 82-game season cannot face each other until the conference finals.
The NBA also voted to expand playoff rosters from 13 to 15 players, with three men deactivated before every game instead of only one. That duplicates the regular season rule. League officials also shortened the length of timeouts.
If a team has two 60-second timeouts remaining in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime, one will be reduced to 20 seconds. Instead of three one-minute timeouts in overtime, clubs now will have two 60-second stoppages and one 20-second timeout. Also, 20-second timeouts can no longer be carried over from the second half into overtime.
Some information for this report provided by AP and AFP.