Why have Conferences?
There is a simple solution to this: why do we need 2 conferences for Playoff seeding?
I understand that geographically having every team in the NBA play each other an equal number of times won’t work. However, Playoff seeds can be done using one overall table. The team with the least wins of the 16 teams plays the team with the most wins. This would be regardless of which conference those teams are in.
The draft already works like this, so why not the Playoffs? It would make for a more competitive Eastern Conference and would give Western Conference teams a fairer Playoff campaign. This is because they wouldn’t have to go up against strong, contending teams until later rounds as opposed to as early as the first round (e.g. Thunder vs Rockets last postseason).
Also, top Eastern Conference teams like the Cavs and Celtics will be forced to ensure they win as many games as possible so that they get a high seed. This will prevent teams like the Cavs doing what they did last year… Barely getting enough wins to get a top 2 seed but being able to rest players throughout the regular season. This gave them an overwhelming advantage over every other team. Since their players where much better rested, they had a very easy road to the Finals.
However, it admittedly would make the first round of the Playoffs slightly more boring. Personally, I’d rather have more entertaining Semis and Finals than worry about the first round being below par. But that’s just me.
It is definitely a problem the NBA needs to address – before the NBA Playoffs become so boring people stop watching the biggest stage of the world’s best sport.