NBA Playoffs: How Did We Get to This Point?

Nino Colla@TheTribeDailySenior Writer IApril 5, 2008

There was a point in my life were I could just start naming every single Pittsburgh Penguin player on the roster.

That era died at some point, it was way before the last lockout, but I assure you that didn't help my interest much.

However, the lockout did make me watch a lot more basketball.

I got so involved with the sport because of Tracy McGrady and a down year from my favorite football team- the Pittsburgh Steelers; I then started naming the bench players for most of the teams in the entire NBA.

Then somewhere along those lines I realized how much I hate Tracy McGrady, the unwillingness to call traveling, and just the overall concept of how the NBA works towards the end of the season.

Don't mistake what I'm about to say as me bashing the playoff system.

People come out of the woodwork every year complaining about the seeding and how a team below a .500 record could make the playoffs.

I'm not going to do that.

What I'm going to do is think out loud.

I want to know why I've lost interest in a game that I not only used to play, but enjoy watching very much.

I won't bellyache over traveling, or my dislike for the Cavalier faithful around me that won't pass up a chance to praise LeBron James.

But perhaps my lack of interest is because of the state the NBA has reached.

Is the way the playoffs are shaking out this year their fault? Absolutely not.

Is there something they could do about it? Probably.

Should they do something about it? No, not really.

Why all the fuss then?

Look, you have 16 teams in the playoffs, four rounds of play that all use the best of seven games format.

That is more than half of your entire league and two teams have the possibility of playing 28 playoff games. That is roughly 34% of their regular season.

The NFL has 12, which is roughly 38% of their entire league. Two teams have a chance of playing 4 games, which is only 25% of their regular season.

The NHL does it just like the NBA, only they mask their issues with a bogus points system. Don’t get me started on that one.

The MLB probably sets the toughest chances with only 27% of their teams making the post-season. Two teams have the possibility of playing 19 games, which is just 10% of their regular season.

Is that a problem?

When you have the eighth seeded Golden State Warriors knocking off the defending Western Conference champions, the Dallas Mavericks, I'm not so sure.

Then again, since 2003- the first year they started playing 7 games, the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference has only one four games; three coming from the Magic the first year, and the other coming from the Bucks in 2006.

 Take a peak at the standings this year, and all of these things hold true coming into Saturday's action.

Western Conference

Nine teams in contention, all above .500 in record.

Portland, the tenth best team is already eliminated from playoff contention with an even .500 record.

No division has been clinched and only two teams have clinched births.

Only two and a half games separate the sixth seed Houston from the top seed, New Orleans.

Eastern Conference

12 teams in contention, only fours teams guaranteed above .500 records.

Charlotte, the 12th best team is still mathematically alive for the final playoff spot with only 29 wins. 

All three divisions have been clinched and seven teams have clinched a birth.

Six games separate the top seed Boston from the second seed Detroit.

It really is a shame, because you can say 16 teams do not deserve to make the playoffs.

But if you were to cut the playoffs, let's say to 12 teams, you'd be cutting out teams that did deserve to make it, all because of conference alignment.

Some people want to trash conference alignment and all that fun stuff, just because the system isn't working.

But you can't do that. You can't make a rash decision just because of one year.

So how did we arrive at this point? How do we pump up my interest in the game?

I'm not really sure if I can provide an answer, nor do I plan on providing one.

But what is it that the MLB and the NFL does that is so successful that the NBA and NHL don’t besides the number of teams.

They don’t restrict conferences to being East and West.

They do have divisions for that, but their conferences are simply two generic names that don’t force them to put all the teams in the state of California in the same conference.

I’m not really sure if we are beyond adjusting that, or even if it is the real reason there is a problem.

Nor am I able to decide where I would start if I were to realign everything.

With that said, I do think the NBA might also need to consider not adding more teams.

There have been all sorts of talks these past few years for a team in Las Vegas and now there is a strong possibility that Seattle makes the jump to Oklahoma City.

They can't expand beyond 30 teams; there isn't enough talent to support it. It could very well be the reason that there is a chance two below .500 teams make the playoffs.

Am I pulling a Bud Selig, and saying contract a few teams?

Absolutely not, 30 is a fine number, which is why it shouldn't change, in either direction.

Maybe if the NBA does that, I will stick around a little while longer, and give it a shot to bring me back.


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