Under the stewardship of Adam Silver, the NBA isn’t afraid of radical changes. Just look at one of the commissioner’s most recent proposals, i.e. to incorporate some sort of midseason tournament into the schedule to boost viewership, a la the G League. But changes of that magnitude have all sorts of fiscal implications. That’s always the biggest obstacle when we start talking about major alterations to the schedule or to the playoff seeding, which hoops pundits have long argued should be given to the top 16 teams, regardless of conference.
Normally, the league isn’t in the business of looking backward, but there’s one instance in which it might make sense to institute a glorious return to the way things used to be: having a Best of 5 series in the opening round. If the league really wants to capture some of the madness that infects college basketball this time of year, and reap some of the many benefits that come along with it, this is the best way to do it.
In a best of seven series, the better team typically prevails. In a best of five series, anything could happen…theoretically, and we have the evidence to prove it. In 1999, the New York Knicks became the first No. 8 seed to ever reach the Finals, and that wouldn’t have been possible without knocking off the top-seeded Heat in the opening round, 3-2.
The last time a No. 8 seed beat a No. 1 seed in a best-of-seven series was 2012, when the Sixers knocked off the Bulls. It is a rare and precious thing, and the lack of bonafide Cinderella story every spring is unfortunate. Today, we have to settle for single-game heroics like we saw out of the Clippers against the Warriors.