Subtraction By Division
It might be time for the NBA to do something radical: go back to four divisions.
What purpose would this new system serve beyond possibly giving some unworthy team a banner to hang up? In the three seasons since the league realigned and established six divisions, as opposed to four, the playoff structure has been confusing and led to some questionable methods by teams to establish position.
Last season, the Los Angeles Clippers appeared to intentionally lose games down the stretch so that it could get the sixth seed andhome-courtadvantage over Northwest Division champion Denver. Another glitch forced Dallas and San Antonio — the teams with the best records in the Western Conference — to meet in the second round.
The NBA alleviated that problem when it decided to give the three division leaders in each conference and a wild-card team the top four seeds, ranked in order by record. No more drama, right? Not quite.
This season, there is another baffling situation: Chicago or Cleveland could finish with the third-best record in the Eastern Conference but get the fifth seed. If either team finishes with a better record than the fourth seed, it would get home-court advantage in the first round. Wouldn’t it be easier to just seed the best eight teams in each conference based on record? Instead, the league offers another head-scratching round of postseason scenarios.