By Reuben Warshawsky
With the National Basketball Association playoffs in full swing, many viewers including myself are switching off the television. The current system provides no excitement to viewers. With the format consisting of four rounds of best-of-seven series, the playoffs drag on and on. The games become monotonous because teams are repeatedly playing the same team. In addition, the significance of winning each game is lessened since a team has to win four games before it can advance.
When the playoffs first began in 1947 they consisted of two rounds of best-of-three series and two rounds of best-of-seven series. This is the most fascinating version of the playoffs because it provides a greater chance of upsets. In a best-of-three series the underdog can successfully pull off the upset, but in a longer best-of-seven series the underdog is generally out matched. For example, the top overall seed has been upset only three times in the history of the playoffs.
The playoffs are so boring that many sportswriters are writing columns on the National Hockey League playoffs instead of the NBA playoffs. That is embarrassing. Hockey is quickly gaining popularity in the United States but it remains well behind basketball. Even avid fans of the NBA cannot watch the playoffs until the finals. The only time I watch the playoffs besides the final round is to watch my favorite player Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder. That is a problem. The games are too predictable with the home team losing only one time in the opening round so far this year.
In order to generate more interest, the playoff format needs to be reformed. This could begin by first not allowing half of the teams to be included in the playoffs. Only the top 12 teams should be allowed to participate instead of the current top 16 teams. All of the series should be reduced to best-of-three except the championship series. Also, the game play of the NBA needs to be changed. The teams should play two 20 minute halves similar to college to speed up the game play. Also, if the game goes to overtime, it should be decided by a one-minute overtime to intensify the excitement of the game.
As the NBA playoffs trudge towards its conclusion in June, I advise sports viewers to watch something else. However, that is the problem. There is no alternative. With the explosion of March Madness, people want to watch quality basketball. It is the responsibility of NBA commissioner David Stern to reform the playoff system so that it will at least be interesting enough to watch. Fortunately, the National Football League Draft received so much media coverage in the past month relegating the NBA playoffs to the background.