Finishing the NBA season at Disney comes with a number of variables foreign to the typical NBA playoffs. Among them: With all 16 postseason teams in the same location, traditional home-court advantage flies out the window. That essentially places all 16 of those teams on a level playing field despite their record, an outcome the NBA's best teams are hoping to avoid. Internally, the higher seeds are discussing ways in which the benefits of home-court advantage might be recreated, according to ESPN's Dave McMenamin.
Among the ideas that have been discussed are the following:
- Higher seeds getting the ball at the beginning of the second, third and fourth quarters.
- Higher seed being allowed to choose one player who would be allowed seven personal fouls instead of six.
- Higher seeds being granted an extra coach's challenge.
- Higher seeds getting preferential hotel selection at Disney.
- Higher seeds being allowed to transport their actual hardwood courts to Disney to recreate the feel of home-court advantage.
Additionally, there have been discussions about a plan that has had fan support for years: Allowing higher-seeded teams to pick their first-round opponents. Aside from providing a greater reward to the best teams for their excellent seasons, it would also create an entertaining and likely lucrative TV event. Alas, McMenamin reports that this plan would be considered unlikely, as people around the league would be afraid of the intangible consequences of offending opposing teams.
In fact, any plan in this vein will be fighting an uphill battle. Why? Because there are only so many teams with high seeds, but passing any sort of plan would require both union support and a two-thirds vote from the league's governors. Nobody is likely to be eager to vote for a plan meant to benefit teams like the Lakers at their own expense, even if it would be a just alternative to home-court advantage.
None of these proposals have been formally presented to the NBA's competition committee, and Milwaukee Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer, who has the NBA's best record and is on that committee, hasn't advocated for any sort of added advantage. "I've been just so hoping that we actually play the games, I don't care if they even give us the home-court advantage," Budenholzer told ESPN's "Golic and Wingo" on Wednesday. "I'm like, just be sure we play. We've got to get to Orlando. We've got to have a chance to play for a championship in the playoffs."
Teams with higher seeds have the ultimate advantage going into any series: the better roster. In most cases, having a better record means being a better team. While home-court advantage exacerbates that in normal years, the NBA's best teams should still be expected to succeed in the playoffs even without it.