The Houston Rockets are currently on a 22-game winning streak that has shot them to the third spot in the Western Conference. The Lakers are playing great basketball with the new edition of Pau Gasol, and the Spurs are doing what the Spurs normally do, win. The NBA’s Western Conference is literally a gauntlet, where every game has to be looked at as a playoff game.
The Western Conference is magnificent, and a lot better than the Eastern Conference. We should just crown the team that comes out of the West as the NBA Champs right, that’s what a lot of media members feel should happen. The Western Conference has had a certain level of dominance over the Eastern Conference over the past decade, but the way the media (mainly ESPN) has explained the differences, you would forget that the Eastern Conference has won two of the last four Championships.
Is the West really that good? No. When you look at the Western Conference this season, how many teams out there can really win the NBA title? Other than the Spurs, the Lakers are the only team in the West with a chance to beat the Pistons or Celtics. Well…the Jazz may be able to beat the Pistons, considering that we haven’t beaten them in the last 100 years. Two of the top three championship contenders hail from the Eastern Conference. The Cavs are a dangerous team as well, especially with the way LeBron James has been performing. Everyone has fallen in love with the style of play in the Western Conference, but the teams from the Eastern Conference that I mentioned earlier, as well as the Spurs all do something that a lot of teams in the West don’t do. That thing is called playing defense. The Celtics and Pistons are numbers one and two in scoring defense and that will make a big difference in the Playoffs. The Eastern Conference champion only has to beat the West champ four times. They don’t have to defeat the all eight playoff teams out there.
The AFC was far better than the NFC, but we all saw what happened in the Super Bowl. Granted, the Super Bowl was a one game situation, but the Giants matched up well with the Patriots. They were more aggressive and played top notch defense, and the Pats had trouble. They struggled the same way the Lakers and Mavericks did in 2004 and 2006. The Lakers don’t have a feared defense, but they do have the best player in the league, and lots of size. When Andrew Bynum returns, they will have three starters that are at least 6-10.
The extreme love for the Western Conference has caused some people to recommend changing the playoff format so that the top 16 teams can reach the playoffs, regardless of conference. I disagree with that idea because these types of things go in cycles. In the 1990’s the Eastern Conference won most of the titles. In the NFL, the NFC had a Super Bowl winning streak that lasted over a decade, until it was snapped by Broncos in Super Bowl XXXII. Now the AFC is the preeminent conference in the league. With the young talent that the teams in the East are accumulating, the tide will turn eventually.
A guest on Jim Rome is Burning on Tuesday said that he couldn’t consider LeBron James a legitimate MVP candidate because he plays in the Eastern Conference. It’s still the NBA. It’s not like comparing someone who plays in the WAC with someone in the ACC. It’s humorous how people tend to over blow things.
I can’t wait until mid-April for the playoffs to start. With the abundance of talent that is in the NBA right now, this promises to be an exciting conclusion to the season. Exciting, high-flying basketball will be played and praised by many, but the teams that play a “boring” brand of basketball will be playing in June.