The NBA Playoffs are finally here with 16 teams advancing to the postseason for a shot at winning an NBA title.
Unfortunately, because of the old and outdated system the league uses — with eight teams coming from both the Western and Eastern Conferences — not always will the TRUE top 16 teams make the playoffs.
The West has shown for a long time now that it’s far superior than the East and this year was no different. And because of the imbalance problem, it’s time for the NBA to change up the playoff format.
“I’ve been saying this for like 10 years, man,” two-time NBA champion and current TNT analyst Kenny Smith said. “NBA fans don’t care [about conferences]. They want to see the best two teams playing in the Finals.”
1. Houston Rockets (.793)
2. Toronto Raptors (.720)
3. Golden State Warriors (.707)
4. Boston Celtics (.671)
5. Philadelphia 76ers (.634)
6. Cleveland Cavaliers (.610)
7. Portland Trail Blazers (.598)
8. Oklahoma City Thunder (.585)
9. Utah Jazz (.585)
10. New Orleans Pelicans (.585)
11. Indiana Pacers (.585)
12. San Antonio Spurs (.573)
13. Minnesota Timberwolves (.573)
14. Denver Nuggets (.561)
15. Miami Heat (.537)
16. Milwaukee Bucks (.537)
As I outlined in a previous article — LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers have it easy playing in the East — the talent gap between both conferences is real. So instead of having eight teams from each conference represented, the NBA needs to start taking the top 16 teams in the league, rather than rewarding teams that play in a weaker conference and division.
There have been countless times where teams have been left out of the playoffs even though their record has been better when matched up against other teams from a different conference.
And once again, it was the Denver Nuggets who came out on the wrong end.
The Nuggets lost a heartbreaking game in overtime on the road against the Minnesota TimberWolves in the season finale on Wednesday. Both teams were playing for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western conference.
Yet, despite having a better overall record than Miami and Milwaukee this year, not to mention playing in a tougher conference too, Denver will miss the playoffs for the second year-in-a-row as they came up one game short in the West once again.
Here is what the playoff seeding would look like if the NBA moved to a true playoff format.
Just how good was the Western conference this year? The T-Wolves, who have two All-Stars players, barley clinched a playoff spot. Considering more than half of the playoff spots were determined on the final night, goes to show just how competitive the West was.
For the past month, one loss dropped teams 3-4 spots in the Western Conference with teams seeded 3-8 finishing the regular season separated by just two games!
In the top 16 playoff format, fans could say goodbye to those boring first and second round playoff games. The top 16 teams would make the NBA Playoffs a must-see event instead of lopsided games as we all wait to see who LeBron will face in the Finals from the West.
First round matchups would be entertaining with the Celtics taking on the T-Wolves, the 76ers facing the Spurs, the Thunder against the red-hot Jazz and the Trail Blazers hosting the Pelicans.
What do you think of the current NBA playoff format? Agree/disagree?
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