Adam Silver has banned an owner from the league.. for LIFE. Now what?
Tomorrow, for the first time in NBA history, there will be three Game 7’s played on the same day. On top of that, there could potentially be three more Game 7’s on Sunday night depending on the outcome of tonight’s crucial Game 6’s.
As I sat and watched the fourth overtime game in a row between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Memphis Grizzlies late Tuesday night and into the midnight hour of Wednesday, I wanted to jump the gun and say that this was the greatest first round of all time. The Chicago Bulls vs the Boston Celtics series in 2009 comes to mind as the best first round playoff series I have seen in my time, but I can’t remember the other seven first round match ups from that year. At least not off of the top of my head.
Back to the 2014 NBA Playoffs. It was hard to make this claim after the first week of post season action, but last night’s three historic forced Game 7’s have led me to elevate this year’s NBA playoffs to GOAT status. Each series is filled with drama and story lines across the board with the exception of the Miami Heat and Charlotte Bobcats series (Miami swept Charlotte 4-0. Will get back to this later on).
Are the Atlanta Hawks exposing the Pacers? Might be more of the Pacers imploding from the inside. Tony Allen has put on an absolute defensive clinic against the best scorer in the league and likely MVP Kevin Durant, which led the hometown newspaper The Oklahoman to turn their backs on the hometown hero. He came out and dropped 36 and 10 in Memphis last night to force a Game 7 tomorrow night in OKC. How about the Warriors vs Clippers? The Clippers ownership situation still looms a black cloud over the organization and series, but now it’s time to get back to focusing on basketball as Steph Curry and Chris Paul will give us a battle for the ages in Game 7 tomorrow night in Los Angeles.
From the Raptors crowd, to Drake lint rollers, Vince Carter’s miraculous Game 4 buzzer beater in Dallas, the Troy Daniels game in Houston, the Reggie Jackson game in Memphis, John Wall and Bradley Beal’s emergence as one of the best backcourts in the league, and Portland’s dynamic duo of LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard establishing themselves and the Blazers as a force to be reckoned with, this first round has been unlike anything we have ever seen before. But, something’s missing.
The best player in the world is hanging out in South Beach while the rest of these incredible playoff series are underway.
Let’s give the Heat credit. They are really good. Unfortunately, the Bobcats lost their most productive post player in Al Jefferson to an injury which might be the biggest reason why they were swept. The defending champions had a tune up series against a Bobcats team that finished the season with a respectable 43-39 record, but in one of the worst Eastern Conferences in recent memory.
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) April 27, 2014
My point is, LeBron James is staring down Michael Jordan as he slams it on the break and styles on the Charlotte Bobcats in a sweep. Meanwhile, there are absolute wars going on across all seven of the other series. And let’s face it. The Heat really won’t have too many problems making it out of the Eastern Conference to advance to their fourth straight NBA Finals (or will they?!) with what remains of the Pacers, Hawks, Raptors, Nets and Wizards as potential future opponents.
There’s also the absolute gauntlet in the West. At this point, no one knows who will make it out. First year NBA Commissioner Adam Silver made his first statement as the new commissioner with his lifetime ban of Clippers owner Donald Sterling after his racist remarks were revealed. So what should be one of his next power moves?
It is time for a change in the NBA Playoffs format. The top 16 teams need to be placed into the post season and matched up accordingly.
A great Phoenix Suns team was left out of this years post season after coming up one game short of the Dallas Mavericks for the final playoff spot in the West. The Suns finished 48-34, which is the same record as the 3 seed Toronto Raptors and 4 seed Chicago Bulls in the East. So, after finishing with a record as good as six other playoff teams, they are on the outside looking in of a historic and unpredictable post season. There’s a big problem there, right?
There are downsides to this potential shake down. What if teams like the Toronto Raptors matched up with the Golden State Warriors in the first round? Imagine having to take those cross country AND cross border flights in the middle of your series? Also, a team like the Atlanta Hawks, who are shocking us all, are giving the top seed Indiana Pacers everything they have.
I have three points to shut down of both of those valid arguments.
First, the NBA as a whole will benefit from the top 16 seeding because we will see even better match ups and interesting series than this year. If the top 16 playoff format were in effect this year, here would be the first round match ups:
1 San Antonio Spurs vs 16 Charlotte Bobcats
2 Oklahoma City Thunder vs 15 Brooklyn Nets
3 Los Angeles Clippers vs 14 Washington Wizards
4 Indiana Pacers vs 13 Phoenix Suns
5 Miami Heat vs 12 Chicago Bulls
6 Houston Rockets vs 11 Toronto Raptors
7 Portland TrailBlazers vs 10 Dallas Mavericks
8 Golden State Warriors vs 9 Memphis Grizzlies
My second point: the value of these match ups!! We have five East vs West match ups and they are all quality match ups. Fans across the league would be fueled by a new sense of anticipation and never before seen post season match ups with this new format and it would only lead to even more attention and revenue for the association. Let’s take a quick look at three potential first round match ups:
In the Heat vs Bulls match up, Chicago is a team that truly brings out the best in Miami. Also, the Heat would have to make it through their respective bracket March Madness style in order to make it to the Finals again, with potential opponents in the Bulls, Pacers, Spurs, then Thunder or Clippers in the NBA Finals. We would see a true test for the Miami Heat instead of a potential cake walk through the East. Second, the team that achieved the top record in the NBA, the San Antonio Spurs, would face the team with the least impressive record in the field instead of a major threat and in no way, shape or form 8 seeded Dallas Mavericks team. Lastly, the Phoenix Suns would have an opportunity to be great against a struggling Indiana Pacers bunch.
Lastly, and most importantly, the top teams in the league will be rewarded for their regular season records. Let’s face it, the Atlanta Hawks are in the playoffs with a 38-44 record as they won the battle for who’s less terrible over the New York Knicks by one game in the East. Hinting back to the Spurs, they will receive a more suitable opponent for achieving the best record in the league. This new format will result in a much better product on the court during the NBA season as teams across both conferences will need to be competitive throughout the season to make it to the post season.
This situation would be the best thing to happen to the league since.. well, since Silver’s press conference on Tuesday on the Clippers owner. Do us a favor Mr. Silver: Put this at the top of your list of things to do this offseason. You have done a commendable job so far and now it’s time to keep the momentum going. The goal is to put out the best product for the league and the fans, and this change will lead to even greater excitement, anticipation and unpredictable results.
-Patrick Hazel (@pattywack25)