NBA Playoffs: New Structure Proposal

Charlie LiContributor IApril 19, 2010

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 25:   LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers looks on during the game against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on December 25, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. 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 Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
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So, I've always had a problem with the way the NBA playoffs are structured. Most of the time, the first round is basically not worth watching, since every round is a 7 game series and the higher seeded team wins a huge majority of the time. Also, the overall competitive intensity of these games is low because one team is just overmatched. Here is my proposal to make the NBA playoffs more exciting. This diagram is the structure of the playoffs in the Austrailian football league. It may seem a little complicated at first, but here's how it works:

This would be the structure for one conference:

Round 1: All matchups are a best of three series with the higher seed having home court advantage

  • First Qualifying Final (QF): 1st seed vs. 4th seed
  • Second Qualifying Final: 2nd seed vs. 3rd seed
  • First Elimination Final (EF): 5th vs. 8th (Loser goes home)
  • Second Elimination Final: 6th vs. 7th (Loser goes home)

Round 2: Matchups are a best of five series, higher seed gets home court advantage

  • First Conference Quarter-final (CQF): Loser of 1st QF vs. winner of 1st EF
  • Second Conference Quarter-final: Loser of 2nd QF vs. winner of 2nd EF

Round 3: Matchups are a best of 5 series, higher seed gets home court advantage

  • First Conference Semi-Final (SF): Winner of 1st QF vs. winner of 2nd CQF
  • Second Conference Semi-Final: Winner of 2nd QF vs. winner of 1st CQF

Round 4: Matchups are a best of seven series, higher seed gets home court advantage

  • Conference Finals: Winners of 2 SFs

Round 5: Best of seven series, team with better regular season record gets home court advantage

  • NBA Finals: 2 conference champions

Here's why this would work: First off, you start out with matchups with teams that are closer in terms of seeding, which SHOULD translate into more exciting competitive games.

Second, you get many more different matchups between different teams, so it will create more variety.

Third, teams in the top four seeds of each conference will have a second chance even if they lose their first round series. This way, if a good team just has trouble with a specific matchup, they are not out of the playoffs entirely, they get another chance.

Lastly, this system would have just as many games, and the games would be more exciting, so it makes sense from a business perspective.

The current playoff system isn't really exciting until the conference finals, this system would create much more urgency in the early rounds for everyone. Come on David Stern, if you are reading this, make it happen.

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