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Fixing the playoff problem is easier said than done, but this dialogue isn't going away. And, somewhat surprisingly, one of the advocates for change is someone who has flourished with the ways of the old world: Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. "I just think it would be more interesting, because you'd have more good teams or teams that performed better, and I think it's more fair," said Popovich, whose Spurs have won five championships since 1999. "If you can take the top 16 teams, you just do it. It's better competition for the fans. It's the best teams. It's fair. … It's a good enough notion that it should definitely be talked about." USA Today Sports
Popovich, who also strongly supports a shorter regular season and sees that debate as tied to this one, is the first to acknowledge that increased postseason travel would present a problem. Nightmare scenarios such as Miami vs. the Portland Trail Blazers or a Los Angeles team vs. a New York team, in which teams would be forced to crisscross the country several times are bound to happen, but Popovich thinks those are wrinkles that could be ironed out. "I would go for it, even though you have more travel," he told USA TODAY Sports. "We have computers now. There are ways that you can make sure that people get the right amount of rest and a fair amount of rest and one team doesn't get the shaft and another team gets it easy. I think there would be a way to make things work with maybe a few less games (during the regular season), so that we could have the rest needed, because right now it's out of whack. USA Today Sports
The battles between his Los Angeles Lakers and Bill Russell's Celtics were legendary, but West has concerns that — between the potential for three-hour time changes and all that extra airplane time — there would be too much of a collective toll taken from the increased travel. "You're back (at the opponent's arena) and you fly home, and you maybe have a day off? I don't like that, and the reason I don't like it is because the playoffs are when you're trying to establish the dominance of a team and potentially a team that would have a chance to win a championship," West told USA TODAY Sports. "I don't like to mess with something that has been a tradition for this league for years." USA Today Sports
Naturally, there is a concern that this dreamy idea would only lead to nightmare scenarios: Miami against Portland in the first round, perhaps, with Golden State in the second round. It would create a difficult travel schedule, especially in 2-2-1-1-1 seven-game series formats. Travel is much easier and luxurious for teams with chartered flights, but Silver is "focused on the parade of horribles you keep hearing." "We have to look at that as well and see statistically — what's the likelihood of that happening," Silver said. "But it's a balance. There will be no perfect solution here." That cross-country travel is a concern. Not only during the playoffs but during the regular season. Silver said any discussion of a difference playoff system would include discussion of a more balanced schedule were teams "roughly played each other the same amount of times." USA Today Sports
By the way, at least two Western Conference teams have suggested in meetings with NBA officials that the playoffs should feature the top 16 teams by record, regardless of conference affiliation, per multiple league sources. The idea does not appear to have much traction. Grantland
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