Sub­trac­tion By Di­vi­sion

The Washington Post Sunday - - Sports -

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.

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