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In discussing a possible change in the way the playoffs are set up in terms of seeding, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver went further than he ever has in talking about possible changes since becoming commissioner.
In his annual All-Star Saturday state-of-the-league address, Silver floated the possibility of modifying the seeding system so that the NBA’s top two teams could meet in The Finals without changing the number of teams that qualify.
With the Western Conference’s recent domination of their Eastern Conference counterparts the past few seasons, calls have come from many to take the 16 best teams, regardless of conference.
Saturday, Silver talked about some potential middle ground, saying the top eight teams from both conferences could still make the playoffs, but they would then be seeding 1-16.
“You also would like to have a format where your two best teams are ultimately going to meet in The Finals,” Silver said. “You could have a situation where the top two teams in the league are meeting in the conference finals or somewhere else. So we’re going to continue to look at that. It’s still my hope that we’re going to figure out ways.”
Other 1-16 seeding proposals have always hit a speed bump with the issue of travel. The current postseason system has 2-2-1-1-1 format for all series in place, meaning a long first- or second-round series between teams on opposite coasts would create some logistic issues. It would also require a more-balanced regular-season schedule so certain teams did not have advantages in reaching the postseason during the regular season.
“Maybe ultimately, you have to add even more days to the season to spread it out a little bit more to deal with the travel,” Silver said. “Maybe air travel will get better. All things we’ll keep looking at.”
Changing to a new system would require 20 of 30 NBA teams to sign off on it, which would likely be a stumbling block as the owners of five Eastern Conference owners would have to vote for the change.
While a vote has not been scheduled, Saturday’s comments were the strongest indication from Silver that the possibility exists.
“That is something that’s gotten serious attention — not just recently, but over the last few years at the league office,” Silver said.