basketball

Should the NBA change its playoff format?

Reseeding the playoff teams, once in, was always the future. It's going to happen at some point, but why should it and why hadn't it already been done?


Kahron Spearman


Like the NBA's "one-and-done" rule, a restacking of the league's playoff system is coming sooner than later.

Multiple talking heads, including former players and TV analysts Jalen Rose and Kenny Smith, have long pined for an alteration for the league to put the 16 best teams - by win-loss record, and not a conference - into the playoffs. NBA commissioner Adam Silver has offered another viable alternative, in reseeding the playoff team after each conference offers its best eight. 

Either solution is long overdue and would finally put the 2-4 best teams on a collision course for an undisputed NBA champion. Gone will be the ideas that "the x conference championship is the defacto NBA Finals."

But what's the main obstacle that's held the playoff format change back?

I've been saying this for like 10 years, man. NBA fans don't care [about conferences]. They want to see the best two teams playing in the Finals.

Kenny Smith
TNT analyst, 'Inside the NBA'

The principal issue - which Silver has brought up - is the travel associated, which could put a team like, say, Boston against Portland, in the first round. 

"I've said in the past, the obstacle is travel, and it's not tradition in my mind, at least," says the commissioner. "It's that as we've added an extra week to the regular season, as we've tried to reduce the number of back-to-backs, that we are concerned about teams crisscrossing the country in the first round, for example. We are just concerned about the overall travel that we would have in the top 16 teams."

As Brad Botkin of CBS Sports noted in his piece, there are ways around this problem - primarily going back to a 2-3-2 format. Botkin rightly notes that the 2-2-1-1-1 format obviously puts more miles on the player's bodies, and a format change would reduce them.

Moreover, the format was first set in the days of Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain, of rough commercial flights with small seats, of heating pads on knees instead of ice.

Now players have private jets with plush amenities, cryotherapy treatments, and the best sports medicine and nutrition available. As the great Charles Barkley said recently: "I think these guys can be inconvenienced a couple days a year to make $30 million and ride on a private jet."

SOU  RCES