We welcome Remy Szabo with his first article for Posterized about the changing dynamics of the Eastern Conference and how it is closing the gap on the Western Conference.
The NBA’s conference imbalance is ending
Since the turn of the decade, the NBA’s Western Conference has been a class above its East. This imbalance led to calls for a Conference re-shuffle or a change in the format of the playoffs. Since the 08/09 season, the East has only produced two playoff brackets with all clubs playing .500 or better. Conversely, the West has consistently seen winning teams miss out; including a 48 win Suns team in 2014. In this period the West has produced multiple legit title contenders every year, with the East resembling a one horse race on more than one occasion.
Fear not NBA fans, times are changing and this year’s Eastern conference is as exciting as it has being in years. As of writing 11 teams are .500 or above, with a number of franchises taking major steps forward over the past 12 months. The Pacers and Heat, buoyed by the returns of Paul George and Chris Bosh respectively, are on track for top 50 wins after both missed last year’s postseason. The Celtics, Magic and Pistons have continued the upward trajectories they began last season and the Knicks are no longer an embarrassment to Basketball. Meanwhile, the Charlotte Hornets have taken the league by surprise; sitting just two games behind the East leading Cavs at 9-6.
The Milwaukee Bucks appeared to have made a major improvement bringing Greg Monroe to the dairy state. But, they’ve taken a step backwards on the hardwood. They’re still a young, long and ultra-athletic team with time to figure things out. Look for them to improve as the season continues. Alongside the Bucks, the East is awash with young teams on the up including Boston, Orlando, New York and Charlotte.
Whilst the East may be improving, it isn’t quite as good as the West yet. Only the Cavs and perhaps the Bulls could be considered real title threats. Compare that to the West where the Warriors, Thunder, Spurs and the Clippers, should they manage to bring their talent together, are talking of a championship. Nevertheless, this year Eastern Conference playoffs are sure to be more competitive.