It feels like virtually every season of this millennium there has been an imbalance between the western and eastern conference as the No. 5 through No. 8 seeds in the west seem to be far superior than in the east. Some years there are multiple teams who miss the postseason in the west that could have been a playoff team in the east, sometimes even a top four or five seed.
Many feel that will be the case once again this season as three eastern conference playoff teams got a lot worse in the Indiana Pacers, Atlanta Hawks and Chicago Bulls with their star players moving to the western conference teams and seemingly every team in the western conference improving.
Because of this there has been chatter for years about seeding the top 16 playoff teams in one playoff bracket regardless of conference, and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is giving it some real thought.
Here is an excerpt from an interview with Silver and ESPN:
“I think though it would require revisiting the regular-season schedule as well. As I’ve said before, we don’t play a balanced schedule now, as I’m sure you know. And for those that don’t, that means that teams in the East play each other more than they play teams in the West. And our feeling is, if we were going to seed 1-16, we would need to play a balanced schedule to make it fair for everyone if we were going to seed 1-16 in the playoffs. It may be that as we continue to experiment with the number of days over which we can schedule 82 games that it will create more of an opportunity for a balanced schedule.”
“Let me add to that I said the other day [to USA Today] that there’s no magic in an 82-game season,” Silver said. “It’s not a change you’re going to see in the short term, but I think when we step back and look holistically at our schedule and how playoffs are seeded we should look at the entire format. Counter-balancing seeding playoff teams 1-16 is also the desire to create more rest for our players and when possible reduce the amount of travel.
“In adding the extra week to the regular season this year, we will be able to eliminate completely four games in five nights. I think it’s the first time in the history of the league we were able to do that. Plus we have back to backs at an all-time low. If we took the existing format, the existing schedule and then we seeded playoffs 1-16, we’d be adding additional travel; you would have teams criss-crossing the country in the first round.”
This is definitely a believe it when I see it situation for me, but while there are positives and negatives to this new playoff seeding style and balancing the NBA schedule, the benefits for the game and overall product would far outweigh any potential loss in revenue or incurred travel in the playoffs.
In 2017 the at home experience of watching or streaming a game is so convenient and high-quality that many people don’t feel the need to attend these games anyway during much of the regular season and less games with better teams facing off earlier in the postseason would increase the overall competitiveness, interest and perception of the league as it tries to expand globally.
Here are my suggestions:
-Reduce the schedule to 62 games. This reduces wear and tear quite a bit and helps the league really stretch out the schedule and potentially start the season later when football season is nearing its end. You could play every team twice and your four division opponents three times, that is 62 games.
-Seed the playoff teams No. 1 through 16 regardless of conference.
-Make the 1st round series best of five once again, but gives the top four seeds in the playoffs four of the five potential first round games at home. Let’s use last year as an example: the Warriors would have hosted the Bulls and would have had Game 1, Game 2, Game 4 and Game 5 at home if the series would have gone that far (it would have been a sweep obviously).
We’ll see if the NBA ever breaks from the norm and shortens the schedule or changes the playoff seeding, I highly doubt it.
Who wouldn’t like to see the Cavaliers play a team like the Thunder in a 2nd round series instead of a team like the Miami Heat though?