Just Give Me One Good Game
Pardon me if I’m coming off as Captain Obvious when I say this 2016 version of the NBA Playoffs has been a bit….well….boring. After the Cavaliers turned the tables on the defending champion Warriors Wednesday night with a 120-90 beatdown, “one-sided” and “blowout” continue to be the themes of the season.
The first three games of the Finals have seen an average margin of victory of 26 points, with the last two games being decided by 33 and 30 points respectively. And if you think these Finals’ “yawners” are an anomaly this playoff run – you’d be mistaken. This has been the rule this spring, not the exception.
To put this playoff run of “uncompetitiveness” (is that a word?) into perspective, chew on these stats for a bit; so far 10 games in these playoffs have been decided by at least 30 points (the most in any playoff stretch in NBA history), and 20 games have been decided by at least 25 points. The closest we’ve ever had to that number was the 2008-09 playoff season when only 11 games were decided by 25 or more. That’s what you call shattering a record. And that’s not good for ratings (at least not for 4th quarter viewership), or for the NBA.
So what exactly is going on this year? There were a few series early on in the East that went the full 7 games (Toronto vs. Indiana, Miami vs. Charlotte and then Toronto vs. Miami), but only 4 of those 21 games had margins of victory of 4 points or less, with most games being incredibly one-sided bore-fests.
And let’s be honest – unlike the NHL where half the teams in the playoffs have a legit chance to win each and every series and advance to the Stanley Cup Finals – no one thought any of those Eastern squads would ultimately knock of the Cavaliers when they finally faced them. So really, how much excitement could the series truly generate even if the games were closer? It’s hard to get excited for your team when you know they have absolutely no chance to win the Championship. The haves and have-nots in the NBA seem to grow further apart every season.
In the West the only series that’s been competitive to any significant degree was Golden State/Oklahoma City (the only series in the Western Conference that went the full 7 games), and even that series included games with margins of victory of 27, 28 and 24 points. Yawn.
So what happens now? Is there a chance the remaining games (be it 2, 3 or 4) of the Finals ratchet up the competitive level and become must watch TV? I guess so, but I wouldn’t bet on it. Personally I’d just like to see one good game before the nets and balls get packed up for the summer and baseball takes the sports stage. That’s not asking too much, is it?