They'd never reduce playoff games, but I'd give best record in each conference a bye, and have 1 more lotto team in each conference. Reward top records while making it harder to make playoffs.
They'd never reduce playoff games, because of the money. But best-of-7 series have a lot of irrelevant games by nature in comparison to a best-of-5 series. I have taken all the playoffs since 2010 (that's 120 series and 667 games in total) and here are some statistics from that.
In the playoffs 61% of the series, the team that as first team wins 3 games will have a 3-0 or 3-1 (coming from 2-1, no double counts) score. Remarkably from the 73 times this happened, only 3 times! the losing team was able to come back from that and win the series (no team came back from 0-3). That's an incredibly low chance of 4,1%
that a best-of-7 series delivers a different winner than a best-of-5.
So 39% of the series go to a 2-2 tie after 4 games. You'd think that here a best-of-7 makes a big difference. However, of the 47 times a team lost game 5 it was able to win the series 9 times. That's only 19%
of the cases.
Together there is only an exact 10%
chance for a comeback when a team falls behind to 3 losses. This means that in 90% a best-of-5 series resulted in the same winner as a best-of-7 series
Had they played a best-of-5 in those 8 years, they hadn't played 667 games but only 489 (reduction of 27%
of playoff games). The 178 games difference consists of a lot of irrelevant games, where games were just played to finish the series while the losing team had no chance or only a small chance for a comeback.
An average playoff series in a best-of-7 consists of 5.6 games. In a best-of-5 this is 4.1 games. That's 1.5 game less per series. This allows for a lot more rest for players and therefore reduce injuries and increase the level of play.
The playoffs at max take 65 days. Now teams get scheduled with a lot of games with only a 1 day rest, sometimes that's a travel day. With a best-of-5 series you can guarantee every team 2 days rest for every game
and every series 1 day rest extra (I've checked this). Also when doing this I took in account a television-friendly-balanced schedule.
As an example the 2017 NBA Playoffs would have at least 2 games
every night for the first 15 days
(with exception for one night that has 1 game, because of the Cleveland-Indiana series, 3-0). For the next 16 days
every night has at least 1 game
(with exception for one night due to Cleveland and Golden State both winning with 3-0).
Of course when the Conference finals have begun there are nights when there's no game and the NBA Finals basically have the same schedule as now.
I know it won't happen, but I'm strongly advocating for a best-of-5 series. In 90% of the cases you have the same winner and teams rarely come back (only 4,1%) from a 3-0 or 3-1 deficit. You get rid of a lot of basically irrelevant games. Teams get at least 2 days rest for every game, which lowers chance of injuries and prevents teams to get exhausted. It makes the playoffs more exciting.
Teams don't get punished anymore for having played a tough opponent. You don't want situations like last year where Cleveland had 9 days of rest when the Conference finals started and Boston only 1! That's just dishonest competition.