Yes, the NBA Eastern Conference is bad.
For the third time in four years it is sending a team with a below-.500 record into the playoffs while the Western Conference hasn’t done so even once since 1997.
People are calling for heads, but giving the 16 best teams in the NBA a playoff spot regardless of conference would not lead to better first round matchups and would impose unfair disadvantages on travelling teams.
If they were to switch to the alternative, the first round of the playoffs this year would look as such:
San Antonio vs. Charlotte
Oklahoma City vs. Brooklyn
Los Angeles Clippers vs. Washington
Indiana vs. Phoenix
Miami vs. Chicago
Houston vs. Toronto
Portland vs. Dallas
Golden State vs. Memphis
None of those series makes me run out of another room to watch a game the same way Houston vs. Portland and Los Angeles vs. Golden State do in this year’s playoffs.
This new system also punishes teams in that some will have to travel much greater distances than others. Using this year as an example, the Clippers would potentially have to fly more than 2,600 miles to and from Washington, D.C., three different times in a seven-game series, while Miami needs roughly half that distance to get to Chicago.
Classic rivalries within conferences will also become a thing of the past. Instead of the Celtics facing the Heat, there will be the Rockets playing the Raptors.
No matter how much you change the system, it will always be only a handful of teams that are true contenders because no team lower than a sixth seed has ever won the finals.
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