Downward Spiral

Is it just me, or does the tight race for first place in the woeful Atlantic Division seem to pose the risk of launching a downward spiral of tanking at the end of the season? After all, if 32 wins will earn you lottery pick in what’s supposed to be an excellent draft, who really wants 35 wins and a hopeless playoff run? I could imagine three or four teams quietly throwing games in an effort to avoid becoming division champion. Meanwhile, as things stand right now, in the Eastern Conference the fifth seed gives you a considerably more favorable playoff matchup than does the third seed. On some level, I have to believe that the incredible awfulness of the Atlantic is a kind of karmic revenge on the NBA for thinking it had solved its seeding problems by decreeing during the offseason that winning a division would no longer guarantee a top-three slot.