With the coming of NBA realignment in the near future, the powers that be should step back and forget about conferences and concentrate and regional and historic rivalries. Why not split the 30 teams into 5 divisions and have the top 16 make the playoffs. By eliminating the conferences, you can potentially have the best available match-up for the finals, meaning San Antonio could have played Sacramento instead of New Jersey last year.
Atlantic Division: Boston, New Jersey, New York, Philadelphia, Toronto, Washington
Southeast Division: Atlanta, Charlotte, Memphis, Miami, New Orleans, Orlando
Central Division: Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Indiana, Milwaukee, Minnesota
Southwest Division: Dallas, Denver, Houston, Phoenix, San Antonio, Utah
Pacific: Anaheim (old Clippers), Golden State, LA Lakers, Portland, Sacramento, Seattle
You would still have the 82 game regular season under the following format: play your division rivals 6 times (30 games); play all of the other teams twice (48 games) and then there would be four “free” games based on history (LA Lakers-Boston, Miami-New York), geography (Detroit-Toronto) or possible match-ups (Cleveland-Denver, LeBron-Carmelo).
Playoffs would remain best of 7 all the way through and you would rank the teams 1 through 16 in a straight bracket with no re-seeding.
As for the All-Star game, you could either do East (of the Mississippi) vs. West (of the Mississippi); North (of the Mason-Dixon Line) vs. South (of the Mason-Dixon Line); The United States vs. The World; or have the two best players in the league pick amongst a pool of all-stars.
I can’t take credit for the alignment as I saw it somewhere else a long time ago, but I think this would be a start into making the NBA watchable again.