I was sitting around today, trying to kill yet another off-day in the Bulls-Cavaliers series, considering if I should write a little piece just to keep my hand in play, so to speak, when I chanced upon Yahoo Sports and saw a story which made me sit up and say: "Yes!"
That the idea contained in the story came from Stan Van Gundy is of little consequence, even though it means agreeing with a coach who presides over the team that wrecked so many hopes last spring and lurks, again, as a possible opponent in the Eastern Conference Finals.
The idea is not radical, nor is it even the most extreme scheduling concept of the week...in fact, not even of the day: The NFL, after all, has taken to scheduling divisional games during the 17th week of their season, to hopefully alleviate the problem of teams resting players during the final game or so, by anticipating that divisional games are likely to be more "important" than games between, say, teams like the Browns and the Jaguars.
And there was a column today which suggests that baseball return to a league-only set-up and eliminate divisions altogether, so that a team like Tampa Bay, which has finally found success, will continue to have a chance in future years to finish with one of the four best records in the American League, instead of having to try to finish first or second in a division with financial juggernauts like the Yankees and Red Sox.
Van Gundy's idea is simplicity itself, and in my opinion, it is a very, very good idea.
The concept would be simple...during the playoffs, instead of having multiple days between games, in some cases, such as Orlando's, just 2 playoff games in nine days between the end of the season and the Magic's game three against Charlotte, Van Gundy's ideal situation would be back-to-back games when both games are in the same city. To be clear, the Cavaliers would have played Saturday and Sunday at the Q, and then, after a day off or two, played another back-to-back in Chicago, which would have had the Cavs and Bulls playing either game three or game four already tonight, and, if it were game three tonight, playing again tomorrow night.
Sure, there are arguments to be made against such a plan, especially for teams which are a little long in the tooth, like the Celtics. The present gaps in the schedule keep Boston "fresher", which seems to be working wonders for the Celts so far. And maybe it is good if "oldsters" like Shaq have a few days off during a series. But...even so...I really like this idea. It would certainly shorten the playoffs dramatically, and I believe it would keep fans in playoff cities at a fever pitch instead of this present system, which reminds me of a thrilling roller-coaster you ride once and then have to wait so long to ride again that it almost becomes easier to look at the gum drying on the sidewalk on the midway than it is to get geared up again for the ride.
Maybe Van Gundy's idea caught me on a good day when I am itching to see the Cavs play, and thus I am more receptive. And maybe if such a system would have been in place last year the joy of the first eight games against Detroit and Atlanta would have been short-lived before reality began setting in against Orlando. And yes, it was good for almost four weeks to be undefeated in the post-season. But imagine the rush if we had played a "short" series (calendar-wise) against the Magic and won...why, the sustained momentum and adrenaline-rush might have carried us all the way (it never hurts to muse).
I am truly anxious to see what you think about this whole idea of "compressing" the playoff schedule. Maybe I am in the minority and most of you enjoy the ups (and downs) and then the emotional leveling off of the system as it is currently.
Please let me know what you think.