PBT’s Top 10 NBA stories of 2014, No. 9: Eastern Conference inadequacy

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In the immortal words of Saggitariutt Jefferspin, X-Wing @Aliciousness, Swirlvithan L’Goodling-Splatt and Beezer Twelve Washingbeard:

Cause you know we gonna win against the East

We gonna get the most points and they gonna get the least

In 2014, the NBA’s Western Conference has turned half a Key and Peele rap battle into reality.

The calendar year saw close to a season with one of the largest conference disparities in history and the start of another season that could feature an even larger gap.

In 2013-14, Eastern Conference teams went 166-284 (36.79 percent) against the West, narrowly avoiding the worst mark since the NBA went to conferences in 1971. The only conferences to fare worse were the 2003-04 Eastern Conference (154-266, 36.67 percent) and 1971-72 Eastern Conference (125-215, 36.76 percent).

The biggest loser in the imbalance was the Suns, who went 48-34 – a record that kept them out of the postseason in the West but would have matched the No. 3 seed in the East. The 40-42 Timberwolves also had a better record than an Eastern Conference playoff team, the 38-44 Hawks. And Phoenix and Minnesota achieved their records against tougher Western Conference schedules.

It appeared 2014-15 would give the East a chance at redemption. The conference had the first four picks in the draft, and the two biggest names to change conferences over the offseason – Kevin Love and Pau Gasol – went from West to East. (Though don’t double-count the No. 1 pick and Love, as Andrew Wiggins was traded by Cleveland for Love.)

However, once again, the East is getting smashed. The conference is 64-106 (36.79 percent) against the West, slightly better than last year. But the West has 11 more home games than the East in inter-conference matchups the rest of the way.

Whether or not the East breaks the record for futility this season, the West’s dominance has been established. This will be the sixth straight and 15th in 16th season the West has a better record than the East.

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The West has won 11 of the last 16 NBA championships, including the Spurs this year. Though regular-season records better show the top-to-bottom conference gap, the East is also getting pounded when it counts most.

From roster-building to marketing, this disparity has affected how the NBA operates. And a lot of people believe current conditions are bad for business.

Mark Cuban has proposed realignment. Other teams are talking about allowing the top 16 teams, regardless of conference, into the playoffs. Adam Silver is looking into all of it.

2014 will soon end, but this discussion will not.