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Opinion: Proposed NBA Playoffs Restructure

NBA Playoffs

We all know that the NBA regular season ended on Wednesday, and now the playoffs begin on Saturday the 14th. We also know that the NBA has a playoff format in which the no. 1 seed plays a series against the no. 8 seed, no. 2 vs. no. 7, and so on.

It is no secret that the NBA playoffs have struggled with ratings, and the past few years have featured some of the worst NBA playoffs in the league’s history. This fact is unacceptable! Look at how many GREAT players there are in the league: LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, Kevin Love. What? Those are just players on the Cavaliers and Warriors? No wonder the playoffs yield poor ratings while the Finals turn out great numbers!

There is a better way to execute the NBA playoffs for both the teams, and fans, to make the playoffs more interesting. The system being proposed would eliminate seeds being fixed to face corresponding seeds. The NBA needs to implement a system in which being the higher seed yields more than just home court advantage. But what does that mean and how would it work?

The proposed principle is quite simple: if you are the number one seed in your conference, you get to choose which of the other seven playoff teams you face in the first round of the playoffs. Then, the second seed would get to choose from the remaining pool, and so on. The second round would still be conducted the same way as the first round; the top seed remaining would get to choose their next opponent. The conference finals would then consist of the two teams still remaining.

This system works for multiple reasons.

For starters, it puts weight behind the regular season, which many argue is too long and drawn out. It also makes the playoffs much more interesting and strategic. For example, in the 2017-18 playoffs, would the Houston Rockets elect to play against a bottom-seeded team like the Timberwolves? Or would they elect to face off against the Golden State Warriors with hopes that their injuries actually make them weaker than the Timberwolves? Would the Toronto Raptors choose to face off against the Cleveland Cavaliers before the role players get too used to playoff basketball? Or would they elect to face the Milwaukee Bucks, whom they beat without much resistance in last season’s playoffs?

Not only would this system make the playoffs themselves more strategic, but it would make for better series throughout the playoffs. How would you feel if your favorite team was viewed by the ‘top’ team in the conference as the ‘easiest’ team, which is why you have to play them in the first round? It makes teams automatically have a chip on their shoulder to begin each round of the playoffs. It can also have the opposite effect where, instead of being angry you are viewed as the weakest team because you were picked first, you feel confident if nobody wanted to play you which is why you play against your next opponent by default.

Finally, the NBA could turn the playoff selection process into an event that they could televise if they really wanted to. This could be a HUGE money-maker for the league, because every fan of a playoff team will tune-in to see who their team wants/has to play, rather than knowing perhaps weeks in advance of who they will face in the first round.

What do you think of this proposed method of executing the NBA playoffs?

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