Fighting Words

Are the top three teams of the NBA’s Eastern Conference, when healthy, better than the top three teams of the Western Conference?

West a more challenging conference

Chris McCown

I think you could make an argument that Boston and Detroit are better teams than any of the Western conference teams before the top teams in the West started importing the East’s stars left and right. Shaquille O’Neal, Jason Kidd and Pau Gasol have all switched teams and the balance of power in the West has clearly shifted to its top teams.

So yes, the East still has the overall records on their side, but the West is simply much deeper and a harder conference to play in.

The Rockets could finish out of the playoffs while having a .600 winning percentage.

As things stand, they’d be the fourth seed in the East and probably have won enough extra games against the bottom of the East to climb above Orlando.

West much stronger than East

Eli Jabbe

Is this question a joke? The West is always better than the East – every year. All of the top eight playoff teams in the West (and the ninth team, for that matter) are within 4.5 games of first place. Meanwhile, the bottom six playoff teams in the East are under .500.

New Orleans is a team that’s versatile, and the Phoenix Suns and the Los Angeles Lakers are great as well. I expect the Lakers to fall off because of superstar Kobe Bryant’s injuries. Utah, San Antonio and Dallas are tough as well, and the Mavericks will only get better with the impending trade for Jason Kidd.

Boston hasn’t proven itself in the playoffs yet, but Detroit definitely has, so it is just as good as Phoenix, and better than the Lakers. The Orlando Magic, currently third in the East, has not proven itself yet either. We know that Judge Dredd could care less about the East’s playoff teams because the Knicks aren’t in the running for a playoff spot.

West teams have a way to go

Keith Cordero Jr.

First of all, Eli, the question asks about the top three teams in each conference, not the top nine. The East’s top three (Boston, Detroit and Cleveland) are clearly better than the West’s top three teams (New Orleans, Phoenix and Los Angeles). The 41-9 Celtics recently beat Dallas and San Antonio without their best player, Kevin Garnett. The Celtics are also undefeated at 16-0 against the West. The Pistons have won 10 consecutive games and are a solid 39-13. The defending Eastern Conference-champion Cavaliers have Lebron James.

The West’s top three have yet to prove themselves and aren’t used to being on top. If it wasn’t for the emergence of Chris Paul and David West, the Hornets shouldn’t go far in the playoffs. The Suns play no defense and acquiring Shaq will change their up-tempo style of play. Injured Lakers Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum are still a long way from returning.

Do your research

Judge Dredd

Portland, Dallas, Los Angles, Golden State, New Orleans, San Antonio and Houston are all in the hunt for the West’s playoff spots, and they’ve all fallen to the Pistons (the current No. 2 in the East) this season.

The Magic (No. 3 in the East) has taken out Western Conference powers New Orleans, Portland, Los Angeles, Golden State, Houston and Denver. And like Keith said, the Celtics (No. 1 in the East) have been perfect this season against Western Conference opponents so far.

Sounds like a couple Fighting Words participants failed to do their research. Boston, Detroit and Orlando have not only dominated the East, but they’ve proven they have what it takes to knock off the top teams in the West.

The question wasn’t about the East’s depth. It asked which conference’s top three teams were the best. Judge Dredd disqualifies Eli and Chris for their incompetence, and awards Keith his first career Fighting Words victory, even though Cleveland is No. 4 in the East.

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