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George Karl wants to end conference lines in NBA playoffs

Mar 25, 2013, 3:55 PM EDT

George Karl AP

The NBA playoffs are mostly seeded in a way fans understand, with the exception of a division winner being guaranteed a top-four seed but not home-court advantage. But if were up to Nuggets coach George Karl, the post-season would throw everyone for a major loop (at least until we got used to Commissioner Karl’s new format). Karl, via Benjamin Hochman of The Denver Post:

“I think you should put all top-16 and do it that way, and then reseed for the next round,” he said.

So basically, here’s Karl’s idea: The top eight teams from the Western Conference and the top eight teams from the Eastern Conference are put into a playoff pool. At this point, conference affiliation no longer matters. Instead, it’s all about record.

The team with the best record plays the team with the 16th-best record and so on.

And then, like he said, they reseed hockey-style for the next round. And so, the NBA’s “Final Four” could be four teams from the same conference — but, as proven by this system, perhaps the four best teams in basketball.

“I think it would get fans excited, man. It would be crazy,” Karl said. “And we travel with private jets now, so I think you can schedule it to where you’d get two days of rest between games. I think it would be really fun and interesting to see the matchups.”

If the NBA adopted Karl’s plan and the season ended today, the first-round matchups would be:

  • Heat-Bucks
  • Spurs-Lakers
  • Thunder-Celtics
  • Nuggets-Bulls
  • Clippers-Hawks
  • Grizzlies-Rockets
  • Knicks-Warriors
  • Pacers-Nets

Does that excite you?

Perhaps, the better questions are, would casual Knicks fans be excited enough to stay up late to watch games at Golden State and would casual Warriors fans be exited enough to get home early to watch games at New York?

The biggest problem with Karl’s system wouldn’t be teams travelling, though that would definitely be a concern. It would be television ratings. Perhaps fans would adjust to watching games at less-convenient times, but that’s probably not a risk the NBA would take.

  1. RavenzGunnerz - Mar 25, 2013 at 4:09 PM

    Travelling, people in NY having to watch a 7pm game in SF. People in SF having to watch a 4pm game in NY. Not worth it at all.

    Let the top 2 teams in each division qualify directly, and 2 other spots are conferenceless wildcards. That I am on board.

    • money2long - Mar 25, 2013 at 4:43 PM

      i know royce white wouldn’t like it

  2. davidly - Mar 25, 2013 at 4:14 PM

    The explanation for what Karl was suggesting seems to fall short of what he was actually saying:
    The top sixteen teams would include those with the top sixteen records, irrespective of conference. This, ironically, just happens to include eight teams from each as things stand at the moment.

    • herkulease - Mar 25, 2013 at 4:44 PM

      Yeah the reporter seems clueless on that. It just so happens that the top 16 teams right now work out to be the top 8 in each conference.

      Karl was really getting that on numerous occasions, teams in the west are on the outside looking in when some east team with a worst record gets in.

      the 2007/08 warriors are a good example. 48-34 but were #9 in the west. 5 east teams with records worst than them including the Hawks with 37-45 record were in the playoffs.

    • zerole00 - Mar 25, 2013 at 5:02 PM

      Great points, and exactly why I dislike the current system. With the exception of the Heat (and arguably Knicks and Nets), the eastern teams are so weak right now.

      • 1heatedtoombrayduh - Mar 26, 2013 at 8:01 AM

        I agree with you, and i agree with Karl..if we just go by top 16 teams we will ensure that the team that wins it all is in fact the best team..

        I also would get rid of the foolish LOTTERY!!!! worst team gets first pick…end.of.story.

    • bballhistorian - Mar 25, 2013 at 6:39 PM

      I agree with Karl’s plan all the way! (been saying this for about 10 years, now). The only thing is that I wouldnt reseed in the 2nd round Hockey-style. I would just keep going with current seeds, like how the NCAA has it.

      Also, that Warriors/Knicks analogy the author Dan puts is irrelevant, especially in the playoffs situation. I didnt hear anyone from LA or Boston complain about the time-showing during their 2010 Finals matchup. Or, that’s unless he would prefer us to take it back to the 1970’s and put the games on “tape delay” so everyone could catch it at the “appropriate time”. Lol!

  3. aboogy123456 - Mar 25, 2013 at 4:38 PM

    Karl’s suggestion would definitely make the playoffs more exciting this year. there is not even one championship contender in the east besides the heat. I’m sick of people saying how great the heat are when every round is going to be boring because the best team they play before the finals will be the freaking pacers. I think the heat could possibly be the best team in the league, but I want to see them face some real challenges. Like a team that can score inside, for example.

  4. zerole00 - Mar 25, 2013 at 5:00 PM

    I’d rather see the best teams go at it than one coming out of a weak division.

    • Mr. Wright 212 - Mar 25, 2013 at 5:41 PM

      Yeah, like the Southeast Division.

  5. 4thquartermagic - Mar 25, 2013 at 5:03 PM

    This format poses the no-brainer question: “Hey fans, do you want to see the best 16 teams in the playoffs?”

    Fans: “Duh. Yes.”

    David Stern: “Only if they are the 16 biggest markets.”

    • Mr. Wright 212 - Mar 25, 2013 at 5:37 PM

      That would be funny if it were true. It’s not about biggest markets, because the team you see most on TV is a middle market. It’s all about where specific stars are playing. If it were always about biggest market, the Knicks wouldn’t get jobbed by the refs (’12 playoffs) and Stern (’97 suspensions) whenever they play Miami.

  6. Mr. Wright 212 - Mar 25, 2013 at 5:36 PM

    After the Heat, Knicks and Pacers, the East is incomparable to any of the top 8 seeds in the West. The thing about the 3-8 seeds in the West is that they are not good road teams. I think they should leave it as is. If anything, go back to 23 teams and stop with the “four division winners guaranteed a top four seed”, because that has cost a team with a better record (finished fourth, but got the fifth or sixth seed because they didn’t win their division behind a 60-win team) a chance at homecourt in the first round.

  7. southpaw77 - Mar 25, 2013 at 5:52 PM

    Karl is right, Denver would be a 2 seed in the East, thats how watered down the East is. Time to put the best 16 teams in regardless of conference.

    And the re-seeding should have happened a decade ago. I remember around 2007 the Warriors were an 8 seed and beat Dallas and got to play a 5 seed Utah, meanwhile the 2 seed Suns had to play the 3 seed Spurs. What a waste, Suns vs Spurs should have been the west finals that year.

  8. itsonlyaspeedbump - Mar 25, 2013 at 6:11 PM

    Yea I want this. Just some crazy hypotheticals: Superstar-laden Miami vs the starless force of nature that is Denver in 2nd round, or KD and Carmelo going at it in the early rounds…youd have potentially 1or 2 exciting series every round instead of how it is now where we have to wait for the conference finals.

    BTW, West Coast guy here.

  9. lucifershuttlesworth - Mar 25, 2013 at 6:20 PM

    I can’t believe I am about to do this but I’d like to give the Canadian Football League some props. Here it is – the CFL is also divided into East and West conferences. Their way of rewarding the better teams is by having a crossover rule in which a team that is out of playoff contention in their own division but has a better record than a team occupying a playoff spot in the other division crosses over and competes in the other division. Please let me have it for mentioning the CFL on here. lol

  10. sportsnut101 - Mar 25, 2013 at 7:56 PM

    I would like to see a change actually

    They changed the first round from a 5 game series to a 7 to benefit the lakers aka stern

    Why not try sumthing different one yr It will be interesting

  11. wfriedrichs - Mar 25, 2013 at 10:34 PM

    I get what coach Karl is saying. I think the problem is the East is so bad that 6 of those teams probably wouldnt even make the playoffs if they played Western Conférence schedule. I have no interest watching a 430pm playoff game

  12. loungefly74 - Mar 25, 2013 at 10:40 PM

    time zone issues would be a mofo…

  13. dko83 - Mar 25, 2013 at 11:20 PM

    I completely agree with Coach Karl. He’s speaking from a WC is always strong than the EC perspective and he feels that isn’t fair, I agree with him. Listen to him NBA. Chances of this happening.. 0%

  14. n2thaizzo - Mar 26, 2013 at 10:30 AM

    I guess I’m in the minority here, because I think this is a dumb idea. First off, the schedules are so unbalanced, that there is no way to really tell who the best teams are. If the Heat played out west, would they have a 27 game win streak going on? Of the 27 games, what 6-7 are vs western teams. So unless they could balance the schedule more, I don’t like the idea.
    2) I’m sorry, as a Boston fan, I’m not excited about a late night playoff game in GS, LA, or any other Pacific time zone playing team. It works in the finals because the games are played at like 9 ET/6 PT. Won’t happen every round.
    3) Rescheduling seeds is the dumbest idea ever.

  15. jackloganbill - Mar 26, 2013 at 12:52 PM

    I am all for it as long as their is equality then during the regular season, meaning everyone plays everyone the same number of times. Currently, teams in the east play each other more times than they play western conf teams…Heck, just get rid of east, west, north, south and make it all one happy family…



  16. jackloganbill - Mar 26, 2013 at 12:53 PM

    Whoops..meant,…as long as there is equality…

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