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With private jets and easy hotel check-ins, a lot of the travel issues that pop up when discussing this thinking are getting trivial. Sure, a Portland-Miami postseason series would have some challenging travel issues, but let's not act like a Portland-Houston or Memphis-Los Angeles Western Conference playoff series is a neighborhood battle.
If we went straight into this format, then 10 of the 16 playoff spots would be nabbed by Western teams. As of right now, here would be your playoff series (all six division winners make it, though they fall right into proper seeding):
16-THUNDER (25-24) vs 1-HAWKS (41-9)
15-PELICANS (26-23) vs 2-WARRIORS (39-8)
14-SUNS (28-23) vs 3-GRIZZLIES (37-12)
13-BUCKS (27-22) vs 4-ROCKETS (34-15)
12-CAVALIERS (31-21) vs 5-BLAZERS (34-16)
11-BULLS (30-20) vs 6-RAPTORS (34-17)
10-WIZARDS (31-20) vs 7-MAVERICKS (34-18)
9-SPURS (31-18) vs 8-CLIPPERS (33-18)
So what changes?
*The Pelicans and Thunder are now in the playoffs while the Hornets (22-27) and Heat (21-28) are missing out.
*The Mavericks and Clippers now have home court in the first round while the Wizards and Bulls do not.
*Oddly, the top-seeded Hawks have a tougher matchup now in the first round (Thunder instead of Heat) while the second-seeded Warriors now have an easier matchup (Pelicans instead of Spurs).
That could lead to the second part of this league upheaval: realignment. I've absolutely hate the current division format of six divisions. It is dumb. Heck, the NBA really doesn't use it and may as well just have a Western and Eastern conference and scrap the divisions. So to hear this development is awesome to me.
However, with the advent of a full-on playoff format, then I feel divisions could be workable again. Instead of having six divisions or even no divisions ... let's have five. And, really, they fit pretty darn well:
ATLANTIC: Boston, Brooklyn, New York, Philadelphia, Toronto, Washington
SOUTHEAST: Atlanta, Charlotte, Memphis, Miami, New Orleans, Orlando
CENTRAL: Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Indiana, Milwaukee, Minnesota
MIDWEST: Dallas, Denver, Houston, Oklahoma City, San Antonio, Utah
PACIFIC: Golden State, LA Clippers, LA Lakers, Phoenix, Portland, Sacramento
Have the five division winners guaranteed a spot in the playoffs with 11 wildcards. Also scheduling would be better. You would play two teams in your division five times each and four games each against the other three division teams. Then you will play each team in two divisions three times and three teams in the other two divisions twice. Those divisions will rotate year to year.
Here are the "five time rivals":
Celtics-Nets-Knicks, Sixers-Raptors-Wizards, Hawks-Hornets-Grizzlies, Pelicans-Magic-Heat, Bulls-Bucks-Wolves, Cavaliers-Pistons-Pacers, Mavericks-Rockets-Spurs, Nuggets-Jazz-Thunder, Warriors-Kings-Blazers, Clippers-Lakers-Suns,
Let's take the Lakers for example in this exercise. Lakers would face the Clippers and Suns five times each, the Warriors, Kings and Blazers four times each. They'd face the Midwest and Atlantic teams three times each and the Southeast and Central teams twice each. There's 82 games.
It would help the current travel concerns. Basically, the Lakers play the Clippers the same amount as they play the Grizzlies. Under the new format, they'd play the teams closer in geography more.