Much like the NCAA officials in March Madness, NBA officials have to earn their way into postseason assignments.
A little over a third of the regular-season staff will earn the right to officiate in the playoffs. Officials earn their way into the playoffs by being highly rated. What goes into those ratings is the season's body of work for them. Many qualifiers are considered, chiefly accuracy in calls and game management.
The number of officials available dwindles as the rounds advance. By the Finals, only 12 of the best officials remain (with two others serving as alternates).
In each round the very best are selected to be the crew chiefs. For instance, in the first round, every crew chief during the regular season makes it into the playoffs. There are 24 crew chiefs, thus they can't all be crew chiefs in the playoffs. Those selected as crew chiefs will remain as crew chiefs until they are also dwindled in numbers during the Conference Finals and Finals.
No matter the fans' opinions on officials in the NBA and no matter how those opinions are formed, there have to be better performing officials that get into the playoffs.
To those who criticize the officials, justified and not, they certainly would have to acknowledge the NBA has begun to address the issue if they were paying attention. No longer are playoff assignments given based on seniority for their time in the NBA.
The most prominent example of this is most everyone's favorite "bad" official, Dick Bavetta. Bavetta hasn't been a playoff crew chief in many years and hasn't made it to the Conference Finals in some years either.
More younger officials are also making it into the playoffs sooner than they would have as recently as five years ago. This is the NBA recognizing the better-performing officials and appropriately assigning them playoff games.
This article will illustrate all the 36 officials this author would choose and the four additional officials that will be alternates.
Each playoff game has an alternate official in case of injury. Some officials assigned to playoff games will eventually be alternate officials in the same round and in the upcoming rounds. Alternate officials are chosen, basically, by a process of having 40 qualified officials and only 36 positions available. The alternates, if called upon to officiate a game, will be at the same level as those chosen to officiate originally.
These slides will also go through each of the crew chiefs that should be assigned.
Also similar to the NCAA is how officials advance. Those officials who perform the best in the first round will advance into the second round. The second round will consist of around 28 officials, seven being crew chiefs. The Conference Finals will have near 21 officials, 6 being crew chiefs.
The Finals are a set 12 officials, four of them crew chiefs and then two additional alternates. The Finals, just like for the teams, are the best of the best and are at the top of their careers. The Finals are what every NBA official strives to attain.