Basically, the next week of NBA basketball is pretty irrelevant.
It seems like I make this argument every year, but it never gets old and David Stern hasn’t listened, so here we go: one of the worst, most greedy decisions David Stern has ever made has been to extend the first round of the playoffs to best-of-seven series. If you want any evidence why, look no further than this year’s first round.
If the first round were still best-of-five – as it had been up until 2003 – we’d be getting ready for second-round match-ups right now. Instead, we have another week of what are essentially foregone conclusions. The Lakers, Celtics, Heat, 76ers and Pacers all have 3-1 leads while the Spurs hold a 3-0 lead over the Jazz. These series should be over. But they’re not and we have a week of teams closing out their opponents to little or no drama.
Just look at the Heat’s series with the Knicks. Miami won game 3 to go 3-0 on Thursday. But, since the series is best-of-seven, the Knicks stole a victory and the series is extended by at least a week since game five isn’t until Wednesday. For what? Does anyone think the Knicks have a chance? I want to move on and see the Heat facing their next challenger, the Pacers. And the Lakers/Thunder finally settle the score. And the Spurs…okay…I never want to see the Spurs, but you get the point.
Of course, we know why Sterns’ system is formatted like it is. The commissioner wants to maximize ticket sales, television airtime and player visibility. But he’s also maximizing injuries and minimizing compelling games. With Dwight Howard and Derrick Rose (along with a slew of other players) out for the playoffs, the only marquee series left in the Eastern Conference is the Heat against the Celtics. With the way the NBA has scheduled the playoffs, these teams may not meet until sometime in June. Ray Allen needs ankle surgery and Paul Pierce tweaked his knee last night. By the time these two teams meet, Boston may be a shell of its first-round self.
Yes, I’m still pumped about the playoffs. Yes, it should end in exciting and dramatic fashion. It just absolutely sucks that there’s a full week in the middle of the post-season that is essentially a blow-off where games lost almost all sense of drama. Somewhere deep down in my soul, I want Stern to be punished by having players drop flies as a result of injuries and we get a Pacers/Grizzlies final that would air on tape delay after episodes of CSI:Dubai and right before BET Uncut comes on.
So pardon me while I spend the week not giving a f*ck about the NBA. Wake me when round two starts.