There is an unspoken understanding between the NBA and its casual fans: We will ignore you for most of the winter in favor of football and college basketball and pay attention come playoff time. You, in turn, must deliver exciting action. Rest your stars and beat up on the 76ers all you want in December. But the final two minutes of most playoff games better be entertaining.
The NBA has not held up its end of the bargain in 2016. Not even close. There are numbers that prove this: There have been 10 games decided by at least 30 points. The previous high for one postseason was seven such games. On one day in the opening round, three of the four games had at least 20-point margins. The average victory margin was at a record high of 14.2 before the first three games of the finals were decided by 15, 33, and 30 points.
The supposed crown jewel of this postseason — the Western Conference Finals between Golden State and Oklahoma City — wasn’t all that close despite lasting the maximum seven games. The margins were 6, 27, 28, 24, 9, 7, and 8. In other words, the Thunder and Warriors took turns embarrassing each other.
In the East, Toronto gave us 20 games over three series (one shy of the max), but still only eight single-digit margins. Granted, three games in the Raptors’ series against Miami went to overtime, including one on a buzzer-beater, but one thrilling conference semifinals series can’t save an otherwise abysmal playoffs.
My friend Andrew, a huge NBA
apologist fan, tells me the Thunder-Warriors series was “highly entertaining,” even the blowouts. Maybe for the diehards, who can appreciate Curry or Durant going off, even in a lopsided victory.
For the rest of us, the NBA has a few more games to try and keep its end of the deal.