Did they NBA care in the 80ís when the Lakers only really had the Rockets to get past and the East was top heavy? Teams in the east had to kill themselves to get to the Finals and the West was a cake walk in comparison.the East had 2 real contenders in the 80's. It wasn't that top heavy.
And tough teams like the Bulls and Bucks. Much more difficult then the teams out west.
The early 80's there were 4 legit contenders for most of those years, the Lakers, Celtics, Sixers, and Rockets. The late 80's had 4 legit contenders for most of those years, the Lakers, Celtics, Pistons, and Rockets. The Rockets weren't as consistent as the Lakers and Celtics as a top tier contender, they even had 2 seasons of not making the playoffs, but they were far more consistent than any team in the East (outside of Boston of course), though without the peak of the Sixers or Pistons.
For some further support, by the time the Pistons rose, the Sixers were gone as a real contender (I mean they weren't even a playoff team in 88). The Bucks were a good, but not great, team at best without a single HOFer in their prime (Tiny and Lanier both well past their primes). The Bulls didn't become a true contender until the 89/90 season. The fact that Bucks could win as many games as they did shows just how weak that conference was on the whole. I mean were the Bucks really any better than a team like the Nuggets. The Nuggets at least had a HOFer in his prime i.e. Alex English, unlike the Bucks who were led by some very good players, but no HOFers i.e. Moncrief, Johnson, Pressey, etc. Then you had a team like the Mavs, which was very similar to the Bucks as the Mavs which were filled with good, but not great players like, Harper, Blackmon, Aguirre, Perkins, Schrempf, Tarpley, etc. Or what about those George Gervin Spurs teams that made back to back WCF in the early 80's, how is that team worse than the Bucks (it isn't).
I understand why we as Celtics fan want to play up the East and downgrade the West, but it just isn't born in reality. The league was pretty weak overall for much of the 80's. The Lakers and Celtics were all time great teams, but the league itself, pretty weak on the whole. I mean have you really looked at teams that were making the playoffs that decade. Lots of crap. The 90's were even worse. It wasn't until the end of the 90's that the league started to balance itself out again and find more parity at the top and more quality throughout the ranks.