I remember one year the Hawks surprisingly started the season 13-0 (or was it 12-0?) and went into the all star break leading the division. They ended up making the playoffs.... and then getting bounced out in the first round. I'm just saying is all.
Then again, THIS Eastern conference isn't exactly the Eastern conference of the mid- to late-90s.
The NBA is too international for this too work. It would work for the Pistons, but what about the Spurs? Parker, Ginobili, and Nesterovich aren't American so they lose most of their starters for an international competition.