Joe Posnanski recently wrote an intriguing article about the difference between most American sports and the English Premier League. While the World Cup and Champions League are run in a playoff style, the Premiership has no playoffs at all. The best team over the long season wins.
Strength of schedule isn't an issue either, given the home and home scheduling. The NBA, on the other hand, has created a system where one wrong step could wipe out a season's work for LeBron James or Manu Ginobili.
The NBA isn't going to abandon the playoffs or shorten their regular season, but the playoff format is a fickle beast that's rendered even more so by the need to maximize television revenues. I understand that need, but it adds an element of randomness to the playoffs that can actually tip series.
A player that injures himself just before a schedule gap gets a real bonus of time that can be priceless in returning a player to function. A player that sprains an ankle or feels his back tighten up going into a Friday-Sunday set could end up missing the second game.
This randomness doesn't mean the playoffs are any less valid, but there's an increasing chance that something we would all agree shouldn't decide who the champion is could end up doing just that. It's more than just the "bad luck" timing of an injury like that to Russell Westbrook. One wrong step for a player like James, Ginobili or even Derrick Rose could turn the playoffs upside down.
Let's take a look at all the playoff pains around the Association: