Apr 10 2014 2:32PM

How Bad Is The Eastern Conference?


Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images

How bad is the Eastern Conference?

The East teams have gone 164-281 (.369) against the West in 2013-14, while averaging a margin of defeat of -4.1 points per game.

How good is the Western Conference?

The West teams are soundly trouncing the East squads as they have for every NBA season but one in the 21st Century, with this season's domination topping all other previous conquests (see box below).

How bad is the East?

When ESPN runs its Hollinger Power Rankings--which combine scoring margin, strength of schedule, recent performance and home-and-road performance into its ratings--only two of the Top 12 teams (and none of the Top 5) are East squads.

When Basketball-Reference runs its Simple Rating System rankings--which combine scoring margin with strength of schedule--only three of the Top 13 teams (and none of the Top 5) are East squads.

It really is quite amazing what the numbers tell us, but perhaps the most revealing is that five West teams--the Spurs, Clippers, Thunder, Rockets and Warriors--all would be favored today in a seven-game series with the Heat, the top-ranking East team, if the playoff series began today.

Also quite revealing is that 10 West squads--two of which will not make the 2014 NBA Playoffs--have better ratings than the fourth-best East squad, no matter which rankings service you use.

The problem is bad enough when simple win-loss records show the annual bias that unfairly favors the East subpar teams.

But when you take into account the strength of schedule and margin of victory too, you truly see what an annual cakewalk the NBA Playoffs have become for the top East seeds from year to year.

How unfair is the current system?

In the first round--if the season ended today--the NBA's top-rated team and West No. 1 seeded Spurs would face the NBA's eighth-rated team and West No. 8 seeded Suns, in the West first-rounder. On the flip side in the Eastern Conference, the NBA's sixth-rated team and East No. 1 seeded Heatwould face the NBA's 20th-rated team and East No. 8 seeded Hawks in the first-rounder.

That's how bad the Eastern Conference really is.

In regards to championships, the West has won 10 of the past 15 Finals. If you take away Miami's three titles during that span (2013, '12 and '06), it would be even more lopsided.

All-Star contests? The West have taken the midseason exhibition 9 out of 15 times since 2000.

Under the outdated current system, the Spurs are treated no better than a ninth seed in a 1-thru-16 playoff seed set-up, while the Heat get the seeding equivalent of a bye.

That's right. The Heat, Pacers and Raptors essentially get cakewalk opponents rated 16th, 17th and 20th by Hollinger, while the Spurs, Thunder and Clippers get play-in games against fellow Top 10 opponents.

The cycle never ends.

15 Years of Domination

SEASON WEST MOV
2013-14 +4.1
2012-13 +2.8
2011-12 +2.0
2010-11 +2.1
2009-10 +1.0
2008-09 -1.0
2007-08 +2.2
2006-07 +2.2
2005-06 +1.0
2004-05 +2.5
2003-04 +3.9
2002-03 +3.0
2001-02 +2.2
2000-01 +3.2
1999-2000 +1.6
SOURCE: Basketball-Reference. KEY: WEST MOV Western Conference Margin Of Victory.