With the unique circumstances surrounding the NBA’s return in the coming months, a likely 1-16, no conference playoff bracket has been proposed. I see this as a far better system than seeding teams 1-8 for a few reasons, and also believe that this season specifically we will see some fantastic matchups due to this setup.
The main reason I think the NBA should potentially continue with a 1 through 16 seeded playoffs is it rewards regular season play. A team like the Clippers, who have rested players throughout the season, are the 4th overall seed, giving them a potential run of the Mavs, Celtics and Bucks just to reach the finals. Meanwhile, the Bucks who were the best team at season’s end, get two easier matchups to begin their playoff run. It will also eliminate the notion of a stronger or weaker conference giving teams easy playoff runs, as many of the matchups are East vs. West in round 1.
Now, let’s take a look at some of the best potential series we could see with the new format this season, to give you an idea of why I like this format so much better.
(2) Lakers vs. (4) Clippers: Just imagine if the battle of LA was with the championship on the line, rather than in the western conference finals. The two title favorites, two elite duos, another classic Kawhi and Lebron head-to-head matchup. This would be the ideal finals for the league for the next few years, so getting a chance to actually see it would be must see action.
(2) Lakers vs. (3) Raptors: This may seem lopsided, but the Raps played LA really well this season, and even won a game at Staples Center. It would be a very tough matchup for them, but the interest in this one starts with Lebron. Can the Raptors finally compete with their new roster against King James in the playoffs? Or will Lebronto continue to be the story in every playoff matchup between his team and Toronto’s?
(1) Bucks vs. (4) Clippers: After last season’s eastern conference final matchup, Kawhi and Giannis could meet again with a trip to the finals on the line. Can the Bucks get over the hump? Will the new look Clippers make the finals in their first season? Is Giannis’ supporting cast good enough to compete with a team like the Clippers? Lots of questions to be answered in this one.
(8) Heat vs. (9) Thunder: Not many will agree, but I think this series is extremely interesting. Two surprising teams who have had phenomenal seasons, each led by a star in Butler and Paul. Young studs a plenty on both rosters, with Herro, Adebayo and Shai to name a few. Both teams are deep and have balanced scoring offenses. I see this one going 7, and either team could come out on top.
(5) Celtics vs. (12) 76ers: Smart and Kanter. Simmons and Embiid. Without considering the potential for a close series, the drama will be enough for this one to be must watch. Both teams have stars, but also guys that can start a bench clearing fight at any point. Simmons and Embiid will need to be at their absolute best to take down the balanced Celtics, who have a new superstar in Tatum.