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NBA's conference imbalance problem

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Do you think the NFL has a problem with a regularly stronger AFC and a weaker NFC over the last 10 years? Just take a look at the NBA. The Western Conference has dominated the East for the most part for the last decade, but this year the playoff prospects are scary. If the season ended now, three sub-.500 teams in the East would be in the playoffs: The Bucks, Bobcats and Raptors. In the West, a .500 team (the Spurs) would be out of the playoffs. In the East, seven teams are .400 or worse; in the West, it's only two.

This problem isn't isolated to this year. Last season the East sent two sub-.500 teams to the playoffs while a team over .500 in the West was out. Previous year, same thing, with a .585 Golden State team out of the playoffs; The Warriors were a full 11 games ahead of the East's No. 8 seeded Atlanta Hawks.

Part of this is not an imbalance between the conferences but within the conferences. While the East has four teams at .700 or better, the West only has two. Teams like the Celtics, Cavs and Magic would contend for the conference title no matter what teams were on their half of the bracket. Still, it's discouraging to see losing teams make the playoffs.

Part of the reason to split the league into East and West is for travel purposes; In 1949, it was a lot harder to get from Boston to Los Angeles. Now it's a five-hour non-stop flight. Does there really need to be this geographic division with improvements in travel?

What can the NBA do about this? Get rid of the conferences? Put everyone in the same playoff pool so the 16 best teams go to the playoffs?