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Telegraph Herald (Dubuque, IA)
NEW YORK - The NBA estimates an increase of 40,000 miles of travel in the postseason if it scrapped its current conference format and took the top 16 teams.
Calls to change the system were renewed this week when LeBron James left Cleveland for the Los Angeles Lakers, which could create another strong Western Conference team, where both Houston and Golden State finished above .700. The only team in the Eastern Conference with a similar record was Toronto. Houston and Golden State met in a thrilling West final before the Warriors swept the Cavaliers in the NBA Finals.
Commissioner Adam Silver has said ideally there would be a format allowing the two best teams to meet for the title, but he has repeatedly expressed concern about the additional travel that would be created if teams were seeded 1 to 16 in the postseason, instead of the current format in which it's the top eight teams in each conference.
The league says it averages about 90,000 miles of total travel in the postseason and estimates that would increase to 130,000. It estimates, based on historical data, an average of 2½ series per year matching teams separated by three time zones before the NBA Finals, with about a 90 percent chance of at least one per season.
A 1-to-16 format would likely mean the league would have to balance the schedule so teams played the same amount of games in the regular season against East and West teams, instead of playing more against the teams on its side.
That would create about 150,000 additional miles of travel in the regular season, the league estimates, from the 1.4 million miles of total travel in 2017-18.
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