Pivot Points: Has the Balance of Power in the NBA Tilted To the East?

Hadarii JonesSenior Writer IDecember 9, 2009

SAN ANTONIO - MARCH 17:  Forward Tim Duncan #21 of the San Antonio Spurs moves the ball against Kevin Garnett #5 of the Boston Celtics at AT&T Center March 17, 2008 in San Antonio, Texas.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

For the past decade the balance of power in the NBA has been firmly rooted in the Western Conference. Western teams have captured six championships and have had more teams with winning records than the East.

If not for the Boston Celtics, Miami Heat, and Detroit Pistons, the Eastern Conference would have been shut out as far as championships go this entire decade.

The emergence of the Atlanta Hawks, coupled with the sustained success of the Orlando Magic, Celtics, and Cleveland Cavaliers have fans in the east pounding their chests and proclaiming the dawn of a new day in the NBA.

There are many observers that feel the mantle of power has been passed, and that the Eastern Conference has usurped their perennially more powerful twins from the west as the top conference in the league.

I would say to those people that a casual tapping of their brakes may be in order, because even with injuries robbing the Western Conference of important players, the power structure remains intact.

Consider that when you combine the records of the top four teams from each conference the Eastern conference holds a slight edge at 63-20, to 62-23 for the west which is virtually even.

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That's where the comparison stops as there is only one more team in the entire Eastern conference that can boast of have a winning record and that's the Miami Heat at 11-9.

Some small measure of pondering is in order, because if the season ended today, that means that the east would send three teams with losing records to the playoffs.

The way that the East is loaded at the top means that there is little chance of the other teams in the conference making a move on the top four teams, and to be honest after the Hawks, the conference is a collection of unflattering talent.

The two worst teams in the NBA are currently located in the East, and they sadly come from the same area. I'm sure that an argument could be made that New York and New Jersey are not the worst, but their records speak otherwise.

Charlotte is improving, and last night's win over the Denver Nuggets was huge, but the loss of Danny Granger will push the Indiana Pacers even further down the basement they currently reside in.

After a surprising start, Brandon Jennings and the Milwaukee Bucks have made a return to their losing ways, and the Detroit Pistons will never be more than an average team for the duration of the season.

I can't forget about the return of Allen Iverson to Philadelphia and the immediate extension of their losing streak to 10 games, in a move that will sell more tickets than earn wins.

The only wild-card seems to be the Washington Wizards, who have the talent to compete for a top spot in the East but can't seem to move past the dysfunction that has plagued them since the return of Gilbert Arenas.

There is a chance that they can turn it around, but the doubts continue to linger as the losses mount.

In the West, the top four teams are Los Angeles, Denver, Dallas, and Phoenix, but you have three other teams on the positive side of .500, and the San Antonio Spurs who are playing .500 ball themselves.

That means that if the playoffs began tomorrow seven of the eight teams would have solid winning records and the eighth, the Spurs, are on the brink.

The Lakers currently hold the best record in the entire NBA at 16-3, and sport the league's longest winning streak at nine games.

So I guess you could say that when comparing the top four teams from each conference the East holds the slightest advantage by one game, but when comparing the entire conferences, it's not even really fair.

I think the fact that Boston and Orlando are tied for the second best records in the NBA tends to offer the illusion of dominance by the east, when in fact outside of those two, the rest of the east pales to the west.

That includes Cleveland, which is coming off of a loss to Memphis, and Atlanta which has began to show cracks in their previously shiny armor.

Of course, there are many games left to play and the season is only a quarter done, but the theory that the East has overtaken the West in NBA dominance is as flawed as the numerous teams in the East that possess losing records.