Someone Please Put the NBA’s Eastern Conference Out of Its Misery
OK, let’s get something out of the way first, the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat both play in the Eastern Conference and both have pretty good records, with the Pacers sporting an NBA-best 28-7. But let’s not get too excited. Indiana collected 20 of those wins against the dreck that populates their conference and Miami lost to the Knicks the other night. The Knicks! But let’s stick with Miami for a sec. They play in the toughest division in the East, the Southeast, where two teams are playing over .500 ball (Miami and Atlanta) and a third (Washington) is just one game under an even record. Hot damn, that’s impressive! In the Central the Pacers, despite having played only 35 games, already hold a 12 game lead on the second place Derrick-Rose-less Bulls. But we’ve saved the worst for last. Over in the Atlantic Division the Toronto Raptors are absolutely dominating the competition with a 17-17 record and hold a commanding three-and-a-half game lead over the second place Nets who have gutted out 14 wins against 21 defeats. The last place team in the Atlantic, the 12-23 Sixers, are only 5.5 games out of first. It’s like a bunch of teams on life support with the last one plugged in crowned winner.
To put the putrid East in further context, if the postseason were to start today, here would be your playoff teams:
Indiana Pacers 28-7
Miami Heat 27-9
Toronto Raptors 17-17
Atlanta Hawks 19-17
Washington Wizards 16-17
Chicago Bulls 15-18
Charlotte Bobcats 15-21
Brooklyn Nets 14-21
Somewhere Mikhail Prokhorov is chest-bumping Kevin Garnett. Anyway, that’s a startling four potential playoff teams playing sub-.500 ball and two others just barely staying at or above that mark. Compare this to out West where the 18-17 Denver Nuggets wouldn’t qualify. It’s an absolute joke. More than half the teams in the Western Conference (nine, to be exact) are playing above .500 basketball, whereas 11 of the East’s 15 teams (if you want to call them that) have losing records. If you’ve seen them play, you know why. And don’t be fooled by the recent signs of life from Brooklyn and New York. Trust me, they stink.
It’s time for a Jonathan Swift-like modest proposal. Pull the plug on the rest of the Eastern Conference schedule and send every team on vacation save Miami and Indiana who you ship our West to play out the season against real teams. Then you take the ten best teams at season’s end and start the playoffs. It’s really the humane thing to do for fans on the East Coast and Midwest. Barring that, I suggest everyone go out and see a really bad movie. It costs a whole lot less than a game and it might even be so bad that it’s funny… unlike most of the teams in the NBA’s East.