Considering the five year run the West had post Jordan-Era with San Antonio book ending the Lakers Three-Peat, I’d be hard pressed to argue that the East has not only caught up with the West, but might even have surpassed it. For one, the NBA is much like politics, mostly due to the Draft Lottery which is, as my brother would tell you, retarded. Why a team like Chicago deserves a number 1 pick, no one will ever know.
Here’s how it happens, you get a brilliant guy in the Lottery, you build around him and hope for a championship in 5 years or so. You become a good team, make money, establish a “dynasty.” Said player is traded; is over the hill; retires gloriously (okay only Jordan fits this one). You get shanked in the Lottery as so many teams do, you draft a bust and you’re back in the dumps. The thing is, creating parity in the NBA is impossible, at least with the Lottery Draft. You would think being the worst team in the NBA would warrant you getting rewarded with at least one decent player that could change your fortunes in a couple of years, but that’s not the case. All that you’re guaranteed is disappointment.
So back to the original point, the NBA has major swings, and they usually involve entire conferences cause that’s all people see really. East versus West. Lately the argument has been that the East simply can’t compare or compete with the West, but I disagree.
Even if the Spurs were still hitting on all cylinders, the West lacks parity. In the long run the West will never really able to deliver in the playoffs. They all enjoy brilliant seasons, mostly due to having the absolute worst teams in the league consistently. To secure the worst record in the league all the Heat had to do was deal without Wade for the beginning of the season, lose Shaq, lose Williams, basically only have their intended starting line up on the floor less than 10 games the entire season, trade Shaq, lose Shawn Marion and have Wade rest his injured self the end of the season. All this and we still only beat out Seattle and Memphis by 5 and 7 game respectively, and the Knicks only joined the bottom ranks because…well they’re the Knicks.
The fact is the West’s schedules constantly pick up these butterballs in the Western Conference. The East usually doesn’t win the East-West match-ups, which does put a dent in my defense, but the East, defensively, is almost constantly put to the test, and does well to match up. The Western conference has breaks, the “mediocrity” cough cough parity of the Eastern Conference forces it to play constantly through the year for wins. Statistically, the average margin of victory is higher in the West, mostly because they play horrible defense throughout so it’s really a crap shoot on who wins thus larger margins, and also having the worst teams to beat down by 20 points is a plus.
Fact is, since the 5 years of dominance by the West, the Pistons Easily handled the Lakers 4-1, then San Antonio was pushed to 7 against the same Pistons, and could have easily faced a much stronger Miami team if Shaq didn’t have the deep thigh bruise that slowed him down so much. The Heat then put the defensive clamps on Dirk and the pathetic Mavericks winning 4-2. How the Cavs made the finals I don’t know, but I blame the Heat for the 4-0 sweep, and now of course the 4-2 series victory by the Celtics, and we all know it wasn’t even that close. It’s simple; the West is a good regular season conference. They’re all built to win lots of games, probably more excitingly for the good of the NBA, but not one of them is built for a tough 7 game series against one opponent, with the exception of the Spurs, and they’re getting old.
In fact, I’m so confident of this, that I will guarantee an East victory next year unless I see some major moves out West because frankly, even with Bynum the Lakers would have still gotten a beating, and they were the best the West could show, and even had a brilliant defensive scheme against Rondo to disrupt the Celtics for the first half of two of the games. The parity of the East is what sets it apart. Next year looks to be even more tight for the East. Contenders for a playoff spot include: Boston, Detroit, Cleavland, Orlando, Washington, Philly, Toronto, Atlanta, Chicago, Miami, and even the Knicks (I expect a rather quick turnaround there, and it is, after all, the wide open East). In the West there are the same eight playoff spots and usually only 8 contenders, and this last year with Pheonix, Dallas, Denver, and Golden State that bottom was really weak.
Now let me just finish with this, I do think most of the better talent is in the West, and thank god the Celtics stole Ray and Kevin to bring a bit more balance on that side of it, but talent just hasn’t seemed to be enough for the West, and in the NBA that’s really disturbing considering it’s usually 1 guy who can make the difference. I think you can only point to the season the Eastern Conference teams are forced to go through with their “mediocrity” as the reason they have recently been keeping up with the West, and if they win again next year, dominance can be brought into the discussion. I promise though, I’ll be back here next year to either crown myself or eat my words; I never shirk from this sort of thing so by all means hold me accountable.