There's been a lot of talk lately with the NBA Finals stinking something fierce that there has to be a change in the playoff formula. And after tonight's hideous Game 3, the NBA needs to take action immediately. Either that or permanently banish the boring beyond belief Spurs from the NBA.
One of the best ideas - although Stern and the owners probably would never let it fly - is to reseed the entire NBA playoffs from a #1 seed down to a #16 seed based entirely on regular season records. That means no more division winners, just a straight-up free for all.
Of course there are some kinks that would need to be worked out. Namely that the regular season would have to allow for every team to play every other team an equal number of times. A possible solution would be to have a team play every other team twice. That would shorten the NBA regular season (which people have wanted to see happen for years) from 82 games to 58 games. Although you might say 58 games isn't enough games, the competetive nature of the games would certainly increase because there is less time to pull away from the herd. And you'd be much less likely to see teams mail in games over the course of the regular season.
That would give us a high octane regular season and a legitimate basis to reseed the playoffs from a #1 seed down to a #16 seed. While some people say that if a top seed is upset we should reseed the playoff matchups again, I don't think that would be necessary. The NCAA Tournament doesn't reseed when a lower seed moves on, and I think it's fine for the NBA Playoffs to follow that model. It also still presents a Cinderella opportunity during the playoffs, which the Warriors showed this year is possible to capitalize on.
The ultimate goal here is to have the best possible NBA Semifinals and Finals - rather than having the playoffs settled in the second round like it was this year between the Suns and the Spurs. The seeding system is the best way to achieve that, even if we don't reseed should a lower seed move on.
Just as a hypothetical - even though teams did not play each other an equal number of times during the 2006-2007 regular season - let's take a look at how the playoffs would have turned out this year had we had a seeded playoff format identical to the NCAA Tournament.
Dallas Mavericks (1) v. Orlando Magic (16) - Predicted winner: Mavericks
Chicago Bulls (8) v. Toronto Raptors (9) - Predicted winner: Bulls
Houston Rockets (5) v. LA Lakers (12) - Predicted winner: Rockets
Detroit Pistons (4) v. Golden State Warriors (13) -Predicted winner: Pistons
Utah Jazz (6) v. Miami Heat (11) - Predicted winner: Jazz
San Antonio Spurs (3) v. NJ Nets (14) - Predicted winner: Spurs
Cleveland Cavs (7) v. Denver Nuggest (10) - Predicted winner: Cavs
Phoenix Suns (2) v. Washington Wizards (15) - Predicted winner: Suns
Dallas Mavericks (1) v. Chicago Bulls (8) - Predicted winner: Mavericks
Detroit Pistons (4) v. Houston Rockets (5) - Predicted winner: Rockets
San Antonio Spurs (3) v. Utah Jazz (6) - Predicted winner: Spurs
Phoenix Suns (2) v. Cleveland Cavs (7) - Predicted winner: Suns
Dallas Mavericks (1) v. Houston Rockets (5) - Predicted winner: Mavericks
Phoenix Suns (2) v. San Antonio Spurs (3) - Predicted winner: Suns, provided Stern doesn't suspend Amare and Diaw
Dallas Mavericks (1) v. Phoenix Suns (2) - Predicted winner: NBA Fans
Even if you disagree with our finals picks (we still believe the Suns would have won that series in 7 at home had Amare and Diaw not been suspended), a Dallas v. Spurs Finals would be fairly good as well. An epic rematch of the previous season's 7-game throwdown. Plus the semifinals matchups would feature some incredible, star-studded matchups. T-Mac and Yao against Dirk and crew. Steve Nash, Amare and the Matrix against Duncan, Parker and Manu.
If the NBA really wanted to improve its ratings, they'd seriously consider this format. It'd make the regular season shorter and more intense and make the playoffs an incredible battle royale that would produce some epic matchups in the semifinals and finals. It sure as hell would be better than the crap we're watching (or like most of us, not watching) right now.
Some other thoughts on the reseeding of the playoffs by Full Court NBA.