Is It Time To Restructure The NBA Playoff System?

Even casual fans of the Association over the last few years, are well aware that the Western Conference has fielded a far stronger selection of teams than their Eastern counterparts for a while. The disparity however, is rather embarrassing this season as only the Indiana Pacers and the Miami Heat have records that are substantially over the .500 mark.

The Toronto Raptors sit at two games over the break even mark, while the current fourth seed the Atlanta Hawks, ended Saturday night with a 25-24 record. That means the last four teams in the Eastern Conference Playoff picture are below .500, more than halfway through the campaign.

If we set the bar of mediocrity at a record of .500, there are currently two franchises headed to the Post Season with records that barely exceed that level and another four teams rewarded for playing less than mediocre. From this vantage point, that seems to be an unjust system that needs to be tweaked. Especially in a campaign that has four teams in the West with better records than eighth seed Charlotte, that would be heading home if the season ended right now.

I have gone back and forth in an internal debate over whether the Playoff System needs to be overhauled for years, however the lackluster performance emanating from the East this season, has convinced me the system needs to be restructured. With new NBA Commissioner Adam Silver now running the Association, it would be a great way to show that there is a New Sheriff in town by adopting a new system starting next October.

Ideally the way to rectify the problem would be to cut back the number of Playoff spots; but anyone who believes that would be an acceptable scenario for the Association, most likely believes the Earth is flat. Which means that we turn to the next alternative, that being picking the best 16 teams in the NBA by record, regardless of Conference. By going in that direction, you most likely would have a far more competitive first round of the Post Season, than what will most likely take place this year.

If the new system were in effect this spring, we would be looking at a Post Season that includes all eight seeded teams in the West, six seeded teams from the East with the Memphis Grizzlies and Denver Nuggets getting the last two berths. Memphis, currently has a record of 27-22, while Denver with a mark of 24-25, is even with the Washington Bullets and the Chicago Bulls, who occupy the fourth and fifth slots in the Eastern Conference. It would knock out Brooklyn with a 22-26 record and Charlotte sitting at 22-29, regular season records that should not be mentioned in the same breath as the Playoffs.

The system I am proposing may also be an incentive for some of the lesser lights of the East to improve their rosters, realizing that the days of slipping into the Post Season by being the best of the bad has come to an end. If they want to get a share of that Playoff revenue, they will have to get their house in order.

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