NBA estimates 40,000 more travel miles with top 16 playoff format


NEW YORK — The NBA estimates an increase of about 40,000 miles of travel in the post-season 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 after Houston and Golden State had the league’s top two records last season. They 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 has repeatedly expressed concern about the additional travel that would be created if teams were seeded 1 to 16 in the post-season, instead of the current format in which it’s the top eight teams in each conference.

“I think, as I’ve said in the past, the obstacle is travel, and it’s not tradition in my mind, at least,” Silver said at the All-Star break. “It’s that as we’ve added an extra week to the regular season, as we’ve tried to reduce the number of back-to-backs, that we are concerned about teams crisscrossing the country in the first round, for example. We are just concerned about the overall travel that we would have in the top 16 teams.”

The league says it averages about 90,000 miles of total travel in the post-season and estimates that would increase to about 130,000. It estimates, based on historical data, an average of 2 1/2 series per year matching an East against a West team before the NBA Finals, with about a 90 per cent chance of at least one per season.

The WNBA switched its playoff format to the top eight teams instead of by conference in 2016.

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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Source:: Sportsnet.ca

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