Shorten the NBA “dance”

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Taking advantage of March Madness, the NBA has released a new series of commercials in order to promote their playoffs entitled, “The Dance Never Ends.” Each video features an NBA player making an impressive shot, and as the player celebrates, he is transformed into the college version of himself via animated illustrations. The broadcaster even changes to notable college basketball announcer Dickie V calling the play during and after the transformation. The words, “The Dance Never Ends” appear on top of the college player and change to “NBA Playoffs begin April 18” as the athlete returns to his professional state. With an 82-game regular season and four best-of-seven rounds in the playoffs before a champion is decided, the NBA dance truly never ends.

Currently, the NBA regular season schedule is set so each of the thirty teams plays a divisional opponent four times a year for a total 16 games. Each team also plays six other teams from its conference four times for 24 games and the other four teams in the conference three times, totaling 12 games. Playing each team from the other conference twice fills the last 30 games on the schedule.

Although unlikely due to economic reasons, I propose that the NBA switch to a 58-game schedule with each team playing each other twice. Unlike the NFL, divisions are not as important in the NBA, so the schedule should reflect as much. Additionally technology has made travel easier and more convenient, eliminating the importance of divisions in the NBA.

If we take a look at the current NBA playoff picture and compare it to the playoff picture on Feb. 27, when most teams had completed around 58 games, few differences arise.

NBA Playoff Picture as of April 6NBA Playoff Picture on February 27
Eastern ConferenceEastern Conference
1. Atlanta Hawks1. Atlanta Hawks
2. Cleveland Cavaliers2. Toronto Raptors
3. Chicago Bulls3. Chicago Bulls
4. Toronto Raptors4. Cleveland Cavaliers
5. Washington Wizards5. Washington Wizards
6. Milwaukee Bucks6. Milwaukee Bucks
7. Brooklyn Nets7. Miami Heat
8. Boston Celtics8. Three-way tie between the Charlotte Hornets, Boston Celtics, and Brooklyn Nets
Western ConferenceWestern Conference
1. Golden State Warriors1. Golden State Warriors
2. Houston Rockets2. Memphis Grizzlies
3. Memphis Grizzlies3. Houston Rockets
4. Portland Trail Blazers4. Dallas Mavericks
5. Los Angeles Clippers5. Portland Trailblazers
6. San Antonio Spurs6. Los Angeles Clippers
7. Dallas Mavericks7. San Antonio Spurs
8. Oklahoma City Thunder8. Oklahoma Thunder

By the 58th game, teams have more or less established their playoff position. The best squads are clearly in the hunt, while the worst have faded away. In the Eastern conference, the largest ranking change has been two spots while another significant alteration is the absence of the Miami Heat in the current playoff picture, in part due to Chris Bosh’s absence in the lineup.

In the Western Conference, the Dallas Mavericks have moved up three spots, but the top-eight teams have remained the same. With fewer than 10 games remaining in the regular season, the last few playoff spots, especially in the Eastern Conference, will be contested. But otherwise, the playoff field was set more than a month ago.

With fewer games, the regular season becomes more important. Teams will not purposely tank or sit their players. Each matchup is critical and different, not boring or repetitive. As a result, people will actually want to watch them because if you blink, you might miss it.

Fewer games may also result in fewer player injuries. Stars like Kobe Bryant and Derrick Rose have not played full seasons as of late because they have not had enough time to fully recover from their injuries earlier in the season.

The long regular season has allowed Paul George to return from his injury from August 2014, which should help the Pacers, who are currently chasing a playoff spot in the East. It has also allowed Jordan Clarkson to emerge as a star for the Los Angeles Lakers, though the Lakers probably wish their season could end sooner rather than later. One can also argue how the regular season allows for player development, but Jeremy Lin, for one, has not improved or become more consistent in his game.

The format of the NBA playoffs can remain unchanged because the best team will still be decided in a fair manner, but an 82-game season is completely unnecessarily long given that it becomes clear early on who are the best teams in the league are.

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