My father has been instilling this into my head for years now. And you know what? He is right. I have realized this now for at least the entire decade, if not longer. The NBA allows too many teams into the playoffs, and the sport has suffered. It has suffered greatly, and I personally have little to no desire to watch a regular season game anymore. As a matter of fact, the longest I have watched this season is probably the equivalent of one full game. And that is the amount of four or five games added up, in which I watched pieces of each of them.
Sixteen teams? Are you kidding me? I know that the NHL may be suffering from the same symptoms, but I cannot speak about that, because I was never a fan. Not that I dislike the sport, it has always intrigued me a little. But I have never taken much interest in it.
Here is a good example of how meaningless the NBA’s regular season seems to be. The Celtics are currently 40-9. Realistically they only need to win probably three of four more games and they will almost all but lock up a playoff spot. Why bring Kevin Garnett back any earlier then they have to? Let him rest as long as he needs. Then bring him back for the stretch run to get back into rhythm for the postseason run. And on that topic, as much as I respect Garnett for bringing a large amount of intensity to each and every game he plays, it could almost hurt the Celtics chances that three 30+ year old stars are playing their hardest each and every game. I will not get on their case for playing their hearts out, but while they are leaving everything on the floor each night, other teams are saving if for the playoffs, because that is much more important in the long run. There is something seriously wrong with this.
Bill Simmons has just released one of his All Star break columns. And one of the things he addresses is how "All Star Weekend" can be improved. Who really cares? Simmons has never addressed the problem with sixteen teams making the playoffs in any of his columns, yet he cares about something as miniscule as this? I have emailed him multiple times, he has never responded, that I know of at least. And I understand his mailbag is packed, he may not even have seen any of my emails. But he as a fan, should recognize the problem that the NBA has been facing for a while now.
As it stands now, three teams in the eastern conference would make the playoffs with sub .500 records. That is absolutely pathetic! Two teams would miss the playoffs with winning records in the west if the playoffs began today. So the West definitely has more good teams…again, but that isn’t the point. How many serious championship contenders make the playoffs each year. Denver and Golden State probably will not make it out of the first round, and do not even deserve to be there. The top four teams in the East are serious contenders, at least in terms of winning the East, but the bottom three are pathetic, below .500 teams. Toronto is solid, but wouldn’t deserve to make the playoffs either. They just aren’t good enough, currently of course.
And when the end of the year rolls around, the battle for the final playoff spot in the East may very well consist of the Atlanta Hawks battling the Philadelphia 76ers. Is that intriguing to anyone? Two bad teams fighting for the last spot. Two teams that may be four games below .500 by the end of the season. Maybe the Bulls make a run and grab a spot. Who cares? The Bulls will then proceed to lose in the first round. So why were they there in the first place? Because too many teams are there in the FIRST PLACE!
Imagine if only four teams from each conference end up in the postseason this season. Toronto and Cleveland would be a game and a half apart right now. Two teams with winning records, battling for the last playoff spot. That is a heck of a lot more compelling than the current setup. In the West, the Lakers, Spurs, and Mavs would be separated by only a half game for the final playoff spot. Meaning that two good teams would probably miss out. But that is the way it is. If those teams cannot be among the four best in their conference then why should they get a shot at a championship. It would give the regular season meaning once again. And until this happens I cannot see myself ever taking this league seriously, even though I happen to play the sport three times a week. It is sad.