Is it Time to Change the Format?

NBA Playoff Seeding Changes Coming?

Adam Silver Suggests that NBA Considering Change in Playoff Format

For the most part, no one likes change. It’s hard to accept something different. It’s difficult to watch something that for years has been the norm undergo change.

It’s everything you have become so used to suddenly being uprooted and flipped 180-degrees.

“It’s cool to mess around with the All-Star Game, we proved you can do that, but let’s not get too crazy about the playoffs.” Said LeBron James over NBA All-Star Weekend. “[Changing the playoff format] changes the landscape of the history of the game.”

No matter what James says and no matter what the feelings of the general public are towards change, change may very well be coming. Like always, it will take time getting used to it, but after a while it too will become the norm. Much like the new bigs versus guards skills competition format. Much like the instant replay rules in the last two minutes. Much like the NBA’s rule on verticality.

Now, in terms of what the league’s idea for the playoffs are, it goes much further than reseeding the playoffs 1-through-16, allowing 16 of the best teams to enter the playoffs. No, it get’s far more wild.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver suggested a play-in tournament as per ESPN’s Zach Lowe.

“Sources say there is also some behind-the-scenes momentum for the idea of a play-in tournament determining the last two seeds in each conference — to the point that two specific proposals are circulating at the highest levels within teams and the league office,” Lowe reported.

“The play-in proposal that has generated the most discussion, according to several sources: two four-team tournaments featuring the seventh, eighth, ninth, and 10th seeds in each conference. The seventh seed would host the eighth seed, with the winner of that single game nabbing the seventh spot, sources say. Meanwhile, the ninth seed would host the 10th seed, with the winner of that game facing the loser of the 7-versus-8 matchup for the final playoff spot.”

While changes are by no means imminent, it is an idea that is now circulating around the league.

It is an interesting idea, but on the topic of reseeding, allowing only the top 16-teams into the playoffs, the change may force major alterations to the NBA game-scheduling. The current belief for years has been that the Western Conference has far more formidable teams than the Eastern Conference, well assuming the league reforms its playoff seedings, that would mean that every NBA team would have to play all 29-other teams an equal amount of times.

By that I mean, Golden State cannot play western conference teams three-or-four times a year, while playing the Cleveland Cavaliers or the Atlanta Hawks only twice. Likewise, the Toronto Raptors cannot beat up on the Orlando Magic four times a year, while playing the Minnesota Timberwolves only two times.

If the 16-top teams crack the NBA playoffs, would there be a point in conferences? In divisions? Would East coast teams like heading over to the west coast twice as many times each year?

While a play-in tournament would be an entertaining idea, is it in the best interest of the league to allow a tenth-seeded team have a chance at cracking the playoffs following a less than mediocre regular season?

The easiest thing to do is to keep everything as is, but if the NBA is really serious about making the playoffs as competitive as possible, allowing only the league’s best teams to enter, over the next few years, something will have to be instituted. The winning formula may not be cracked just yet, it must definitely remain a top priority for Silver and his league office.


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