Ken Berger: ‘Everybody Would Rather Have Best 16 Teams’

Injuries are part of every sport, but usually they occur during a game or in practice – not during an arrest in the middle of the night.

That, however, is apparently what happened to Thabo Sefolosha, who broke his right fibula and suffered ligament damage during his New York City arrest in the early morning hours of April 8.

Even worse, Sefolosha claims he was injured by police.

“There’s going to be some fallout from this,” CBS Sports NBA insider Ken Berger said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “I think the next step in this story will happen when Adam Silver does his Board of Governors address with the media on Friday. I think he’s going to have to come out and say something of substance on this because we’ve had such an unfortunate series of incidents involving police force, authorities (and) race. It goes beyond basketball. It goes beyond a player on an important team in the NBA being injured. So I think there is more fallout to come here.”

Sefolosha will miss the rest of the season – a crushing blow for the Atlanta Hawks (60-21), who are in the midst of the best season in franchise history. Atlanta will face either Indiana (38-43) or Brooklyn (37-44) in the first round of the playoffs.

If Berger had his way, though, that wouldn’t be the case.

“You’ve got to credit (the Pacers) for kind of staying in the hunt,” he said, crediting Indiana for staying afloat despite Paul George missing essentially the entire season. “But I keep coming back to this: We’re going to get either the wounded Pacers or the inconsistent, dysfunctional Nets in the eighth seed in the East. Instead of one of those teams, can’t we just have the Thunder and the Pelicans, whichever one doesn’t get in in the West? I think everybody would much rather have that, and it just goes back to the argument that at some point, does the NBA need to changes its playoff system so the best 16 teams get in?”

As it stands, either New Orleans (44-37) or Oklahoma City (44-37) will miss the playoffs, while the East will have two sub-.500 teams get in. The other team – aside from Indiana or Brooklyn – is Boston, which, despite its 39-42 record, has been a feel-good story this season.

The Celtics, clearly in rebuilding mode, have won eight of their last 10 games – including five straight – to reach the postseason after a two-year absence. If anyone doubted whether Brad Stevens could hack it in the NBA, well, stop. Stevens, 38, has done a masterful job this season.

“He really has,” Berger said. “You’re absolutely right. You can only deal with the circumstances you’re dealt. It’s not Brad Stevens’ fault that the East is bad. He’s just coaching the team. And to do what he’s done with that team – granted, they wouldn’t be in the playoff discussion in the West, but they’re not in the West. In a year when they are in a rebuilding mode having ended the Big Three era with KG and (Paul) Pierce long ago and Ray Allen and finalized that with the Rondo trade – to trade your best player and still make the playoffs is a pretty strong accomplishment.

“I had him third on my Coach of the Year ballot,” Berger continued. “I just couldn’t not give it to Steve Kerr. Sixty-six wins and counting, biggest improvement for a 50-win team year-to-year in NBA history, rookie record for wins for an NBA head coach – I couldn’t not give it to him. But Brad Stevens certainly deserves a lot of credit.”

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