Lebron James will never play in the Western Conference.
Well… not unless Adam Silver changes the playoff landscape.
Three months ago, the current NBA commissioner proposed this awesome idea in which the best sixteen teams will play in the playoffs. In the current format, the best eight teams from each conference will slug it out with the Best of the West fighting the Beast of the East. But in this format, there are times in which an under .500 squad can reach the playoffs (mostly from the East) while an over .500 squad can’t (mostly from the West). This sucks – but it’s an idea we need to get by.
But with the proposed playoff format change, the best NBA teams will battle each other out. This means the Cleveland Cavaliers could face the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round and perhaps in the final four, we could have an all-East or all-West clash.
Now LBJ hates the possible rule change. James is pretty much the biggest beneficiary of the playoff format as he made the NBA Finals in his last seven trips and won three in the process. Right now, the Cleveland Cavaliers are going to slug things out with perennial rival, Boston Celtics.
And just imagine if Lebron didn’t face the Indiana Pacers and the Toronto Raptors en route to the Eastern Finals?
If we follow the proposed playoff change, here is how the 16 teams would fare:
1 vs 16: Houston Rockets (65-17) versus Milwaukee Bucks (44-38)
8 vs 9: Indiana/Oklahoma City/Utah/New Orleans (48-34) vs Indiana/Oklahoma City/Utah/New Orleans (48-34)
5 vs 12: Philadelphia 76ers (52-30) versus San Antonio Spurs (47-35)
4 vs 13: Boston Celtics (55-27) versus Minnesota Timberwolves (47-35)
6 vs 11: Cleveland Cavaliers (50-32) versus Indiana/Oklahoma City/Utah/New Orleans (48-34)
3 vs 14: Golden State Warriors (58-24) versus Denver Nuggets (46-36)
7 vs 10: Portland Trail Blazers (49-33) versus Indiana/Oklahoma City/Utah/New Orleans (48-34)
2 vs 15: Toronto Raptors (59-23) versus Miami Heat (44-38)
It’s easy to weed out the one-on-one tiebreakers but to have a four-way that bridges conferences… I’ll let the viewers go nuts on the supposed outcome.
So with Lebron still going to possibly face their most lethal oppressors this season and to possibly forging a match between the triumvirate in OKC, a spunky rookie in Donovan Mitchell, and well… Playoff Rondo… this could be a thing to note for The King.
Also in this setup, the Washington Wizards would cede its spot to the Denver Nuggets. This would have marked the first time the West outnumber the East in playoff contention.
If you think Lebron isn’t brave enough to battle the best squads from the get-go, then perhaps Lebron isn’t crazy enough to swap a sure advantage with an unsure one. And it’s not even in terms of competition. Just take a look on how the Cavs were manhandled by the Pacers. Any team determined to succeed can pose as a challenge to Lebron. With that said though, at least with this setup, Lebron and the Cavs could just concentrate on scoring wins on their division-mates than worrying against the whole NBA. With all the Cleveland drama this season, they still managed to endure the playoffs.
Lebron could change kits next season. He could return to Miami or give the New York Knicks a welcome shot in the arm. Hell, we could brace for a LBJ run with the Boston Celtics.
But as far as playoff runs and monetary considerations are concerned, I am pretty sure he will stick with the East… not unless Adam Silver changes the playoff format.