After recognizing that, for probably the 25th consecutive year, the NBA's western conference is vastly superior to the eastern conference; and the travesty that a team like Portland could definitely snag a #7 playoff spot in the east (not that I'd consider that a good thing) I was wondering on how to "fix" the NBA playoffs.
The first thought is to borrow... from tennis. At tennis tournaments, the seedings aren't "complete" - their are (at least) 3 different pools and tiers at which players are seeded. For example, the #1 and #2 players will always be on opposite sides of the bracket and could only face each other in the finals; from there, the next 30 ranked players are seeded; and the last 32 players are randomly assigned.
How would that translate to the NBA?
If you were to stick with the current East/West playoff format, you could seed the #1 and #2 teams in each conference; and randomly place the #3 and #4 teams in the remaining "first round home court" spaces; and then randomly assign the 4 road teams.
What is the benefit?
First off, it would reduce late-season tanking/gimmicking of the higher ranked teams in order to engineer the matchups they want.
Secondly - it makes the #8 playoff seed that much more valuable and encourages teams to play for that spot. Currently, no team wants the last spot in the East, just to be quickly dispatched by Miami - many teams find a lottery pick over the #14 pick as worth the loss of a few games; however, if the prospect of getting to play the #3 or 4 team, then that's an upset than can be pulled off.
Lastly - it's another event that the NBA can broadcast - the playoff selection show. Heck, you could even have team reps come and pick the envelopes, and watch the players emotion when they reveal their first round opponent to be the perfect match-up or the perfect storm.