By all accounts, this would be considered a successful season for the Dallas Mavericks.
And if they don’t make the playoffs, it’ll be a crime.
Nine games left, and the Mavs are 43-30 sitting ninth in the Western Conference, a half-game behind the Memphis Grizzlies and a full game behind the Phoenix Suns. The NBA has come so far in a year that 41-41 last season was considered the cutoff for teams making the playoffs.
There’s a chance that Dirk Nowitzki could miss the playoffs for the second straight year, and the Mavs improved leaps and bounds this season. There’s only one hope: Remove the conferences and put the best 16 teams in one playoff.
Mavs owner Mark Cuban was recently asked about the idea of ridding the East and West. This has been an idea that’s been thrown around for the last couple of years. If the playoffs started today, Dallas would be the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference. That’s how shocking the lack of competition from the East has been this season.
That’s taking nothing away from teams like Charlotte and Washington for what they’ve done this year. It’s a breath of fresh air to see those two franchises on the up-and-up and both will make the playoffs this year.
But now that Dallas is on the outside looking in, and it’s looking like the race for the last few spots in the West will be decided in the last week, Cuban was asked about what he’d think about a change in the playoff format.
Via ESPN Dallas’ Tim MacMahon
Believe it or not, outspoken Mavs owner Mark Cuban, whose team would obviously benefit from such a change this season, isn’t certain how he’d vote if such a switch were formally proposed.
“I can make an argument on both sides,” said Cuban, who anticipates that new NBA commissioner Adam Silver will examine the subject during the offseason.
The argument for such a change is obvious. The system is screwed up when a team that is 12 games over .500 is a playoff spectator while a squad that finishes nine games under gets a postseason berth.
But Cuban cites an unbalanced schedule and travel as issues he needs to study before determining where he stands in this debate.
“The timing and all of that stuff could be really messed up in terms of television. Again, it’s something I could make an argument on the other side that you want your best 16 teams playing from a television perspective, travel be damned.
“I don’t have a final position on it yet. I’m keeping all my options yet.”
Cuban brings up a good point about the travel aspect. Western Conference teams don’t have to travel any further than Louisiana, if the New Orleans Pelicans ever get back to the playoffs. Two notable first-round matchups from a year ago — Clippers/Grizzlies and Spurs/Lakers — traveled the furthest distances. In the East, it wasn’t as big of an issue. Indiana and Atlanta was the most problematic first-round matchup in terms of travel difference.
But the plethora of seven-game-series possibilities in a top-16 playoff format look too good to pass up. If the playoffs started today, certain matchups would include:
- San Antonio vs. Minnesota
- Oklahoma City vs. Washington
- Houston vs. Toronto
- Portland vs. Phoenix
And the 6/11 matchup? Miami vs. Dallas. I won’t even begin to imagine what kind of world we would live in if Dallas and Miami played in a playoff series that wasn’t the NBA Finals.
The NBA needs to get this done by next year. The Mavs could possibly miss the playoffs after one of Rick Carlisle‘s best coaching seasons ever and after Dirk’s unthinkable All-Star season. There’s no other way to put it.
Paging, Adam Silver…
You can find Danny Webster on Twitter by following @DannyWebster21.