The Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers are on a direct collision course to the NBA Finals, obliterating any and every team in their paths in embarrassing fashion. Both teams swept through the first two rounds of the postseason with ease before the Conference Finals opened last week. More competition was expected but it was just more of the same as Golden State erased a 26-point deficit in their Western Conference Finals opener against San Antonio before an impressive 136-100 win in Game Two. Cleveland blew out Boston 117-104 in Game One before a 130-86 debacle in Game Two highlighted just how far apart the two teams are. The playoffs are meant to be competitive but it hasn’t been this season. Can the NBA fix its parity in the postseason? Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley, of the AFRO Sports Desk debate this troubling issue.
Green: The Chicago Bulls ran the NBA for much of the 1990s while Boston and the Los Angeles Lakers were annual Finals repeats in the ‘80s. We’re just undergoing another stretch in the Association where two dominant teams will continue to dominate until self-implosion happens. No team in the East will beat Cleveland or any team LeBron James is on, and no team out West is slowing the Warriors and their high-paced, shoot-at-will offense. It’s just one of those things. The NBA has flirted with the idea of reseeding for the postseason and mixing conferences similar to the NCAA tournament but that would never work. Removing the East/West competition would be bad for tradition. If you want parity in the NBA then you need to be patient until James retires. But even then, history suggests that some younger phenom will probably take over the reins and dominate the conference.
Riley: A reshuffle around playoff time could be exactly what the NBA needs. The Eastern Conference has routinely been viewed as the weaker conference between the two, and reseeding teams based upon record would be the safest way to keep things competitive in the postseason. The 2014-2015 Brooklyn Nets qualified for the eighth seed in the East with a 38-44 record while the Oklahoma City Thunder, still brimming with Russell Westbrook and a then-hobbled Kevin Durant missed the mark out West despite a 45-37 record. The Atlanta Hawks backed their way into the Eastern playoffs in the 2013-2014 season with a 38-44 record while the 48-34 Phoenix Suns couldn’t secure the eighth seed out West. Reseeding wouldn’t stop James from dominating but it might make for a better brand of watchable postseason basketball.
Green: Reseeding for the playoffs would be a heady idea but to rearrange the NBA rules just for short term ramifications doesn’t really make sense to me. James is in his window just before his prime ends in another two or three seasons, and Golden State has a few players that will be commanding huge paydays shortly which could jeopardize their depth of all-stars. In one corner you have a once-in-a-generation type of player while in the other corner there’s an all time team that just won the record for most regular season wins with 73 last year—and that was before the Warriors added Kevin Durant. I admit that playoff basketball has been unwatchable but things will turn up real soon in the NBA Finals when fans are treated to a rematch of last year’s seven-game deciding series.
Riley: The playoffs run for nearly two months and waiting until the last series of the postseason shouldn’t be the highlight for fans. Reseeding could at least squeeze a few more watchable series out before the Finals begin. Would James be nearing his seventh consecutive Finals appearance if he didn’t have to square off against the Hawks and Raptors of the East every year?