NBA commissioner thinking about making big changes to NBA playoffs
If NBA fans want to see the league’s two best teams in the NBA Finals — regardless of conference — they may also have to accept making the never-ending playoffs even longer.
No, the long-discussed NBA playoff reform isn’t imminent, but it’s clearly been on commissioner Adam Silver’s mind.
Speaking at All-Star Weekend, Silver again addressed the idea of a 16-team seeding system, hoping that the top two teams would be left standing at the end.
“You also would like to have a format where your two best teams are ultimately going to meet in the finals,” Silver said. “You could have a situation where the top two teams in the league are meeting in the conference finals or somewhere else. So we’re going to continue to look at that. It’s still my hope that we’re going to figure out ways.”
For the past several years, the Western Conference has been the NBA’s dominant conference, with teams like the Warriors, Spurs, Rockets and Clippers among the league’s elite.
Conversely, the last non-LeBron James-led team to win the Eastern Conference was Boston in the 2007-08 season.
So the thought of seeding the top 16 teams, regardless of conference, has bubbled up as a hot topic.
As great as that sounds, there are a couple of big stumbling blocks.
Adam Silver said the obstacle for having 1-16 playoff seeding is “travel, not tradition.” This is why we need @elonmusk‘s rocket travel idea to become a reality. ?
— Kevin O’Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) February 18, 2018
For example, under the 1-16 format, a potential Celtics/Blazers first-round matchup would certainly be enticing.
But, with the current 2-2-1-1-1 home court setup, the teams would constantly be flying across the country in a long series.
The commissioner says stretching things out might be the answer.
“Maybe ultimately you have to add even more days to the season to spread it out a little bit more to deal with the travel,” Silver said. “Maybe air travel will get better. All things we’ll keep looking at.”
That wouldn’t sit well with critics of the current playoff schedule, where teams that win a short opening-round series often sit for more than a week before playing again.
Another issue would be the regular-season scheduling, which features three or four games against conference foes, and two against every team from the other conference.
In theory, when the power is stacked on one side — as it currently is in the Western Conference — those teams would beat each other up, while the top teams in the opposite conference would have an easier schedule.
There’s clearly some work that needs to be done, and any proposal would have to garner two-thirds support among the league’s 30 teams.
Silver’s not at that point yet where he can even present a plan to the owners, but this is clearly something on his mind.
“That is something that’s gotten serious attention — not just recently, but over the last few years at the league office,” he said.
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