East Vs West: how can basketball differ from coast-to-coast?

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In any sport, competition is the lifeblood that drives interest. Everybody wants an answer to the question: who is the best?

It's why nobody could believe it when Ronda Rousey was spectacularly knocked out by Holly Holm. It's why the world just had to see Floyd Mayweather Vs Manny Pacquaio. It's why 3.2 billion people - around half of the world's population - watched the FIFA World Cup in 2014 - who could dethrone Spain, the most dominant side in world football since the Brazil side of the 70's?

Could Brock Lesnar break The Undertaker's WrestleMania streak? Ok, I'm straying away from the concept on that one, but the metaphor remains. Sport produces questions we demand to be answered.

A seemingly eternal question arises within the NBA: which conference is better, the east or the west? Although finding an opinion on the matter wouldn't be a taxing endeavour, finding one with genuine substance certainly is.

Let's explore some stats. There have been 16 All-Star games since the turn of the millennium, six of which the east has won compared to 10 for the west, who have emerged victorious in five of the last six.

The most successful franchise in history is the Boston Celtics with 17 NBA titles to their name. For the geographically challenged, the Celtics reside in the east.

Continuing to look at the league since the year 2000, there have been 16 NBA Championship winning sides. 11 of those teams to write their names in the history books are western franchises.

However, only four different sides won those 11 titles in the west, as opposed to three different outfits in the east. If a side is dominating periods with multiple titles, is that really a fair representation of a whole conference reigning supreme over another?

I think not.

The crux of our statistical breakdown is this - they don't matter. None of the aforementioned statistics are tangible gauges of separation.

The NBA by it's very design incessantly evolves. The worst records in the league are attributed the best new players via the draft. Although short-sighted general manager decisions cannot be accounted for, the blueprint to level the playing field is apparent.

And yet, there are interesting differences to explore between the two conferences that stylistically, make for intriguing opposites.

Three-time All-Star power forward Paul Millsap has had experience playing in both conferences during his tenure in the league.

Having spent the first seven years of his career with the Utah Jazz, since 2013 the 31-year-old has suited up for the Atlanta Hawks, and he believes there is a difference in tempo between the two batches of 15 franchises.

"It's hard to explain. What are the main differences? I can't really put my finger on what that difference is," Millsap pondered.

"Maybe it's [the west] a little faster pace or maybe it's [the east] slowed down a little bit more... I know in the east they run a lot more sets and plays, so I guess that's probably the biggest difference."

The tactical elements that Millsap touches on would support his claim about the pace of the game, too. For those who feel the east is slower and more methodical than the west, recent defensive stats might add some weight to their stance.

The Indiana Pacers, Boston Celtics and the Hawks are three of the top four sides in defensive efficiency right now as we break into March.

Such rigid defences oppose the fast-paced, floor-stretching nature of the west, where point guards like Steph Curry and Russell Westbrook have especially flourished.

The other side of that coin suggests the west is a more open and offensively driven league. After all, the top five point scorers in the NBA as of March 1st are Damian Lillard, DeMarcus Cousins, Kevin Durant, James Harden and of course, Steph Curry.

All five of those men ply their trade in the west while LeBron James - who isn't a typical volume shooter by a long stretch - is the east's best offering in sixth.

On the strength of that, it's no coincidence that Andre Drummond tops the charts for cleaning the boards and Hassan Whiteside is the premier shot-blocker across the league.

That's two more defensive stats the east can boast. Do these recurring themes compound the mentalities of the opposing U.S coasts?

The leaderboards suggest as much. In today's modern game, the antics of Steph Curry for the Warriors probably makes the offensive-minded west a 'sexier' proposition to the majority of fans and thus, narrow-mindedly, better.

But, basketball purists may equally rejoice at the well-rounded expertise of James for the Cavaliers.

This isn't an east versus west article, it's an overview appreciating the different aspects of the game each conference represents. Hopefully, come the NBA finals, we'll all get to enjoy those characteristics at the very apex of their powers.

Eastern Conference
Central Division
Northwest Division
Western Conference
Southwest Division
Atlantic Division
Southeast Division
Pacific Division
LeBron James
Cleveland Cavaliers

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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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