Everyone understood the NBA's conference imbalance. Even if at times the best team called the Eastern Conference home, for years the Western Conference was collectively much, much better.
That's not the case in 2015-16, which makes the Washington Wizards' no-playoff situation a bit more painful.
With back-to-back wins over Charlotte and Brooklyn, Washington improved its record to 40-41 with one game left. There's something to be said for at least finishing the season with a .500, non-losing record, though such goals are rather low bar especially for a team that reached the playoff each of the last two seasons. Hopes of another postseason appearance officially ended with Friday's loss at Detroit, but were on life-support for some time.
Yet if the Wizards played out West, Wednesday's home game with the Atlanta Hawks would have playoff implications.
Entering the final two days of the regular season, the Rockets and Jazz are tied for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. At 40-41, Washington has the same record as Houston and Utah.
Just to play out this fantasy a bit more, the Rockets own the tiebreaker over the Jazz, but a three-way scenario is trickier. Washington split two games each with Houston and Utah.
All play their final regular season game Wednesday with the Wizards' matchup against the Hawks the hardest while the Rockets and Jazz are set to face non-playoff teams. Houston hosts Sacramento and Utah plays at the Los Angeles Lakers in Kobe Bryant's final NBA game.
Since you're wondering, if the NBA seeded teams 1-16 for the postseason, Washington, Houston and Utah would be one game back of the Chicago for the final slot. Considering the Bulls host the lowly 76ers Wednesday, that's almost like saying Derrick Rose and crew would have already clinched a playoff berth. Instead like the Wizards, their season ends Wednesday.
Granted, there really isn't an "if" here since the scenario never existed. None of this really matters, except that some dismissed Washington's last two playoff appearances which resulted in reaching the Eastern Conference semifinals because the West is best.
No offense to the Wizards, Rockets and Jazz, but any of the three are just chum in the water in a first-round matchup against the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors.
Squeaking into the postseason wouldn't change the possibility of notable changes throughout the organization.
Making the eighth seed isn't the greatest of accomplishments considering the preseason hopes of perhaps competing for a conference title.
Still, participating in the playoffs beats watching them. If the Wizards were in the Western Conference, hope would still be alive. Weird, huh.