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NBA Beat: George Karl in favor of changing postseason format

New Orleans’ Anthony Davis, right, drives against Houston’s James Harden on Wednesday. The Pelicans’ 38-34 record isn’t good enough to make the Western Conference playoffs. But as many as three teams in the East could make the playoffs with losing records.
New Orleans’ Anthony Davis, right, drives against Houston’s James Harden on Wednesday. The Pelicans’ 38-34 record isn’t good enough to make the Western Conference playoffs. But as many as three teams in the East could make the playoffs with losing records. AP

Kings coach George Karl welcomes change.

So count him as a coach who embraces the idea of ditching the NBA’s current playoff format.

Rather than the traditional eight teams from each conference making the postseason, Karl is in favor of the 16 best teams making the playoffs.

“I think we always did the East-West thing because of travel,” Karl said before his Kings played the New Orleans Pelicans. “It was crazy when you had to play across the country. In the old days they had the train. The trains were difficult.”

New Orleans would benefit from such a change.

Playing in the West, the Pelicans’ 38-34 record falls short of making the playoffs. Meanwhile in the East, as many as three teams could make the playoffs with losing records.

The Pelicans ended a four-game losing streak by beating the Kings on Friday, but that slump could have cost New Orleans a chance at extending its season.

The Pelicans were just happy to get a win.

“When you lose four in a row, it doesn’t matter how you lose those games, you lost and it feels like an eternity before you get another win,” said New Orleans coach Monty Williams.

But even winning now might not be enough to catch Oklahoma City for the final playoff spot in the West.

Karl believes if the format became a top-16 bracket, the Kings could improve enough to make the postseason next year.

In that scenario, winning 40-45 games would likely be enough for one of the final playoff spots.

Phoenix won 48 games last season and missed the playoffs in the West, and at least two teams with winning records (New Orleans and Phoenix) could miss the playoffs in the West this year.

Karl said travel concerns shouldn’t impede change. No longer are NBA teams flying commercially, and the television schedule for the playoffs often provides plenty of rest time.

“I think it is going to be fairly easy to travel,” Karl said. “Even if you could get an East-West situation or a Texas-Portland situations in the first, second, or third round.”

As Karl notes, some travel is already lengthy.

“We have difficult travel in some of those rounds,” he said. “I don’t know what the flight from Miami to Milwaukee would be but it would probably be a three-hour flight, four-hour flight.”

Chances are the Pelicans would be OK with a long flight if it meant they were in the playoffs.

Trending up

The Golden State Warriors continue to look like the best team in basketball as the playoffs approach.

Stephen Curry might win league MVP and the Warriors sent a message to the Grizzlies, the team many believe could upend them in the playoffs, by beating them in Memphis.

The Warriors rank tops in the league in offensive and defensive efficiency, so they play well on both ends of the floor. And while some contenders are reintegrating key pieces into the lineup (Houston, Chicago) the Warriors are playing some of their best ball.

It will be tough to stop them.

Trending down

Two losses cannot define a season, but the way Memphis has lost its last two games is discouraging.

Two championship contenders, Cleveland and Golden State, outclassed the Grizzlies by running them off their home floor.

This might be a situation where the losses help the Grizzlies re-focus for the playoffs. That better be the case because if they don’t get it together, there’s no guarantee the Grizzlies will even advance past the first round.

Last words

“Kevin has his own opinion, who he believes is MVP, no one should fault him for that.”

LeBron James to reporters after teammate Kevin Love said in a radio interview that he’d give the edge in MVP voting to Russell Westbrook, his UCLA teammate, over James, his current teammate, Stephen Curry and James Harden.

Follow The Bee’s Jason Jones on Twitter @mr_jasonjones and read more about the team at www.sacbee.com/kings.

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