NBA

Christmas Day opener exposes how bad the Eastern Conference really is

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Christmas Day is usually reserved for match-ups meant to be interesting in the early season. It's a prediction, but also a setup.

The problem is when those match-ups expose something. What they exposed were the problems with the Eastern Conference (and giving the Lakers any sort of high-level play).

The issue was exposed in the opener.The Washington Wizards are as good of a team as the East has to offer, one of four teams that are competitors along with the Toronto  Raptors, Cleveland Cavaliers and Chicago Bulls. Yes, I'm disrespecting the Atlanta Hawks here.

The Knicks are, well, one of three teams (all from the East) competing to get the most ping pong balls in the NBA Draft lottery.

What went wrong?

The issue of the day could be best shown by Quincy Acy's hard foul on Wizards star John Wall that led to a Wall shove in response and then Acy's half-punch toward Wall.

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It will be interesting what more punishment the Knicks forward gets after the cheap shot on Wall and then the response to the response that got him booted.

It wasn't a punch that landed – and you can see Acy pulling back after his initial instinct to throw a punch – but it still doesn't look good for him. Phil Jackson could be seen trailing Acy down the hall to the Knicks' locker room after the ejection.

What else was wrong?

Yes, the Wizards won and Wall starred with 24 points and 11 assists. He also made a crazy 360 layup. He's a legit star, so it's not a surprise a guy like Acy would make a run at him.

But there are also too many have-nots in the East.

It's the reason Washington's record looks so good. The Wizards would be a lower playoff seed if they happened to play in the West, despite their misleading 6-2 record against teams out West.

They have beat the Lakers, Jazz, Timberwolves, Nuggets, Pelicans and Clippers (the only win against a current playoff seed).

They lost to the Suns and Mavericks.

When you get a lot of games against Detroit, Milwaukee, Orlando, Boston and the Knicks, you should fare well.

The Knicks, after Thursday's 102-91 loss to Washington, are 5-26 while losing 16 of their past 17 games.

How will it look in the postseason?

The reality is, it's a tough proposition that the New Orleans Pelicans (14-14) are playing well with one of the bright young stars in the game in Anthony Davis and are sitting outside the playoffs right now along with the Oklahoma City Thunder (13-16).

In the East, if the season ended today, the Brooklyn Nets (12-15) would be in.

Something is wrong with that. Or, consider this. The West's top seven teams are a combined 62-14 against the East. The East's top seven are 38-29 against the West.

Maybe it's time for the conference's to change.

Topics:
Washington Wizards
Southeast Division
Eastern Conference
NBA
New York Knicks
Atlantic Division

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