You know what’s better than having playoff games for one month?
Having playoff games for two months!
Yes, it is that time again for the NBA to start the postseason. Each year, 8 teams from each conference (16 in total) will play each other in a seeded format up until the NBA Finals. The matchups are all “best of 7” series.
I’ve mentioned in other posts before about how different the NBA is from other major sports because it has locations in many cities that don’t have any additional major sports teams. It’s unique in its ability to spread its product across the U.S., without the standard Eastern-heavy amount of teams that other major sports tend to be located in. Likely for this reason, the national viewership is greater in the Western half of the U.S.
It inspires great pride for certain cities, like Portland, San Antonio, and Oklahoma City to have a great team with a chance to bring home a national championship. As other cities like New York and Boston have plenty of other professional teams capable of bringing home championships, the aforementioned cities only have their sole basketball team to look to.
Also, for many years (or even generations) the Western Conference has dominated the East. It’s very surprising when the Finals arrive that the East can even have a chance to compete. Take a look at some numbers for examples:
Here are the current standings for the 2013-2014 season that just ended Thursday. Notice anything?
As you can see, the 9th best team in the West (Phoenix) is as good as the 3rd best team in the East (Toronto). The difference is that Toronto will get more home playoff games unless they face the #1 or #2 seed, while Phoenix will stay home as their season is over.
I would feel better about the NBA and their unique seeding system if they had 2 more teams in the league. Otherwise, they have these really weird discrepancies where more than half of the teams can go to the playoffs, but they usually let in at least one team with a losing record.
The Phoenix Suns are 14 games above .500 and they’re staying home. The Atlanta Hawks are 6 games below .500 and are in the playoffs. This is one big reason why major sports like the NFL should avoid expanding the number of playoff teams too high.
Nevertheless, the NBA playoffs allow many more cities to ponder the chances of their team taking this year’s championship. Players come and go, teams come and go, times and rules change, but the championship win/s will always be remembered.
Speaking of changes, the Charlotte Bobcats managed to clinch a playoff spot and are the 7th seed in the East. What will be very interesting to see is how much merchandise they sell and how far they can go in the playoffs.
This is the last season that the Charlotte team will be known as the “Bobcats.” Next season, they will return to being known as the Hornets. I actually hope Charlotte does well this year, as this will be their first postseason trip since 2010 (and 2nd ever) and their city has been selling out the home games.
Their original team moved in the 90’s to New Orleans, who in turn replaced their former team that moved to Salt Lake City. Now, New Orleans is known as the Pelicans and Utah still has the team name “Jazz.”
In the West, while I always like the Spurs to do well, I would like to see a team like OKC’s Thunder or the Memphis Grizzlies to go the Finals. Kevin Durant deserves a championship at some point in his prime. Also, OKC is one of those cities in the western half of the U.S. with no other major sports teams.
The Grizzlies themselves seem to have several castoffs from more popular franchises, like Paul Gasol, starting for the team. They have had their team stripped of good, developing players for years and have suffered many losing seasons because of that. It would be a welcome change to see them come back and show up other teams in the playoffs, defy all odds, and get into the Finals.
They are led by player Zach Randolph, who I always liked when he played for the Trailblazers. He was, and still is, vastly underrated and practically unknown. If he signed for a team like the Heat, Celtics, or Lakers, you’d bet that suddenly “everyone” would be experts on his career.
The playoffs kick off this weekend, starting with the Brooklyn Nets playing the Toronto Raptors at 12:30pm Saturday, and three games all following at 3:30pm (Warriors vs Clippers), 7:00pm (Hawks vs Pacers), and at 9:30pm (Grizzlies vs Thunder).
There will be 4 more games on Sunday as well between the other 8 teams with roughly the same times. Tune in if ya can, but there is still much more basketball in the near future, so don’t fret too much.