Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Basketball Tinkering
The NBA's not happy. First, the Stanley Cup playoffs are head and shoulders above them. Now Commissioner Stern wants to tinker with the playoff formula he last tinkered with to get them where they are today. The more divisions into which you organize your league, the more potential headaches you set up for yourself. The big complaint is that the league's 2nd best team (Dallas) was seeded #4 heading into the playoffs. Because they finished in second place to the #1 team, who happened to share the same division. Not only would Dallas have fewer home games than division winners with fewer wins, but they would have to play their nemesis in round two of the playoffs instead of round three or four. And the commish would have preferred to see a marquee match-up later in the playoffs rather than earlier. People, there's a fair way to set this up. Eliminate all divisions if all you can do is complain about them. Then the number 1 team plays number 16, 2 plays 15, 3 versus 14, and so on. Re-seed the teams after each round, or do what the NCAA's do and just bracket the playoffs. If Stern wanted a compromise instead of more commissioner tinkering, I'd seed the playoffs based on wins plus bonus points. I'd suggest they give each division winner an extra eight points to tack on to their win total (the equivalent of one-tenth of the NBA season) then seed everybody based on total points. That way, the NBA's Western Conference playoffs would've looked something like this: 1. San Antonio 71 (63 wins plus 8 bonus points for winning the Southwest 2. Phoenix 62 (54 wins plus a bonus for winning the Pacific Division 3. Dallas 60 (just wins, baby) 4. Denver 52 (44 wins plus a bonus for taking first in the Northwest) 5. Memphis 49 6. LA Clippers 47 7. LA Lakers 45 8. Sacramento 44 Second place teams still have incentive to finish first, rather than limp in to the playoffs with only six more wins than losses. Second place teams that might happen to be the second-best in the whole league would not be punished if they were head and shoulders above other good first place teams.

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