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NBA playoff changes necessary

Written by Tim Sun

Published April 17, 2015

The NBA playoffs are finally here and it is an exciting time for Warrior fans around the Bay Area. The Dubs set a franchise record with 67 wins this year and are the favorites to win their first championship in 40 years. Fans from everywhere will tune in to see this new Warriors team, led by fan-favorite MVP can- didate Stephen Curry.

Ratings will be high for the other West- ern Conference playoff match-ups as well. Teams with young stars like the Trail Blazers and Rockets will battle against long standing powerhouses such as the Spurs and the Dirk Nowitzki-led Mavericks. Every squad has a legitimate chance at the title, and every game will be exciting and fun to watch.

However, the same cannot be said about the Eastern conference. The East is a mess this year, as two teams with losing records are go- ing into the postseason. This has been going on for years now, and teams with such bad records should not be in the playoffs. The sev- enth seeded Celtics, for example, have almost no chance to beat the second seeded Cava- liers. The Cavaliers will walk into the second round of playoffs and will receive crucial days to rest, while their Western conference coun- terparts will struggle through gruelling first- round games. Even further, few fans will want to watch blowouts like the ones bound to happen in the Eastern conference first-round games, and TV ratings will suffer. The current playoff format is flawed, as it lowers viewer- ship, snubs some teams each year and gives certain teams easier schedules.

The current playoff format takes the top eight teams in each conference into the post- season. However, this omits some teams,

such as the New Orleans Pelicans, who will miss out despite having a solid team led by superstar Anthony Davis. Simultaneously, far inferior teams like the Celtics and Bucks will make the playoffs.

The playoff system can be revamped, and the change does not need to be very radical. A format with the top six teams from each conference automatically qualifying and the next four best teams regardless of conference entering as wild cards is a proposal that may work to solve many of the issues.

For one, this proposed playoff system in- cludes the best teams in the league, because under this format, the Pelicans would qualify for the postseason this year. In the future it would almost guarantee that the best teams make the playoffs, regardless of which confer- ence is stronger. In years of great disparity like this one, either three or four wild cards would come from one conference, and in years of more equality, each conference would have two wild card teams. This new system can ad- just for the discrepancy between conferences when it needs to, and can have no effect when the sides are equally balanced.

This new format would also give us the games we want to watch. Personally, I will not be tuning into any Eastern conference match- up likely until the conference finals, but I would definitely watch a game between the Hawks and the Pelicans. The system would add an element of interest too, as inter-con- ference play before the finals would draw in- trigue. Viewership would increase, and over- all hype for the playoffs would go up as well.

The NBA is the only major professional North American sport not to include wild card teams, as baseball, football, and hockey all have a way to balance the scales come play- off time. This can be resolved with a new play- off system that would be beneficial to fans, teams, and the NBA itself without being an extreme and controversial change.

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