The NBA’s playoff format has come under more scrutiny than usual this season, given the large disparity in the quality of teams (and the number of wins) in the two prevailing conferences.
The East will have at least one and possibly two teams make the playoffs with sub-.500 records, while the West will have a team somewhere near a mark of 15 games over .500 miss the postseason entirely.
Adam Silver has promised innovation since taking the reigns as Commissioner on Feb. 1, and said on Friday in San Antonio that it may be time to look at changing the format of the playoffs to include the league’s best teams.
Conducting an in-game interview with Spurs broadcasters Bill Land and Sean Elliott during the telecast of Friday’s Spurs-Suns game at AT&T Center, Silver said the league needs to consider changes to the format that puts the top eight teams in each conference in the playoffs. …
“I don’t know that there will be movement,” Silver said about changing the format. “My initial thought is we will take a fresh look at it. When these conferences were designed it was in the day of commercial (air) travel. It was very different moving teams around the country.
“In this day and age when every team is flying charter it changes everything. It’s one of the reasons we moved back to the 2-2-1-1-1 format for this year’s Finals.”
It’s a logical progression, but there are obstacles to putting something like this into practice.
Looking at this season’s standings, the variation wouldn’t be too drastic. There might be one more Western Conference club in to create a 9-7 split, but the seedings would be substantially altered, with the West taking the top three and seven of the top nine.
And that’s the biggest issue to overcome.
A seemingly sensible adjustment like this would mess with the East versus West format for the Finals that’s been in place essentially forever. That might be enough to prevent this type of change from ever taking place, but Silver promises to give it a fresh set of eyes nonetheless.