With as many as nine teams in the western conference approaching 50 wins this season, and at least one eastern conference team assured of a losing record guaranteed in the playoffs, the NBA needs to re-examine its playoff structure.
The Dallas Mavericks, Memphis Grizzlies, and Phoenix Suns are battling for the final two playoff spots in the western conference.
Each of the three with their current record would be the three seed in the east.
Understanding that different conference and division placement would result in a different record it important, but the west is the stronger conference, and the bottom of the west playoff picture has better teams, and more deserving playoff teams then even the middle of the pack in the east.
Currently, each conference sends its top eight teams to the playoffs, and new commissioner is Adam Silver interested in changing the way the eight seed is selected, but that might not be what the league needs to create more playoff equity.
Proposals about open seeding have been shot down because of travel prohibitions, but it's ok for the Lakers and Celtics to meet in the NBA Finals, why wouldn't it be ok in an earlier round?
If the playoffs began today, in the west, Houston would play a first round series against Portland. The teams are separated by two time zones and 2200 miles.
For reference, Dallas and Miami are just one time zone and 1,300 miles apart.
While there may be an occasional team from the east coast needing to play back-to-back rounds with a west coast opponent, or vice versa, the payoff for the league, actually getting to see its top 16 teams competing for a championship would be more compelling than having the Knicks, who are 10 games under .500 , served up as first round fodder for the Miami Heat.
Yes, there are upsets, which can be compelling in their own right, but consider that the last time an eight seed beat a one seed in 2011, when Memphis took out San Antonio, the Grizzlies had a 46-win team what would have been the five-seed in the east, and that season, the west featured three teams with better records than the Indiana Pacers, who were the eight in the east, that did not make the playoffs.
The league should be working harder to have more competitive playoffs, including the first round, and while this season is a particularly pointed example, there have been other recent seasons where less deserving teams made the post season because of favorable conference situations.
The NBA needs to consider some change, in order to reward its teams and fans with higher quality post season match-ups, and commissioner Silver is in a great position to make a statement by considering open seeding for the NBA Playoffs.
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