Our own Ira Winderman writing at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel points out that changes this week to remove divisional opponent record from tie-breaker procedures for playoff seeding don’t go far enough. Because the imbalanced schedule impacts record as well.
But if the Board wanted to carry out the process to its natural conclusion in the wake of the lockout, then a one-time strength-of-schedule tiebreaker should have been added beyond the primary tiebreaker for head-to-head competition, considering the degree that the 66-game schedule is so out of balance.
For example, say the Heat and Chicago Bulls split their four-game season series (the Heat lead 1-0 with the second game Thursday night at the United Center), consider from a Western Conference perspective that while the Heat are scheduled twice apiece against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks, the Bulls have just one game again each of those three (the Heat and Bulls each play the San Antonio Spurs once).
It’s an interesting line of thought, but beyond playing the West teams, what do the Strength of Schedule numbers suggest? Here’s what Basketball-Reference.com says:http://www.basketball-reference.com/play-index/share.cgi?id=qGjrP&output=iframe
OK, Bulls fans, before you blow a gasket, yes, being the best team in the league is going to bring down your SOS. You’re just not playing against teams better than you that often. But the fact remains having the weakest schedule in the league is tough to argue. At the same time ,though, if you take the numbers out of it, consider this. Twice the Heat have ventured West on a road trip and twice have suffered losing streaks. When Chicago has gone West, they haven’t been perfect, but they’ve been efficient and effective.
Shouldn’t how you play against the best teams in the league count as well?
Of course, by that measure, the Heat are 1-0 against Chicago this week. Hey play this week. Good times.
But there’s a simple solution here. Win the most games. Or don’t worry about it. The best teams in the NBA can play on the road anyway. But it’s an interesting debate.