Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The NBA's Second Round Begins: Less Fun In The New World

Clockwise, Then Counter Clockwise
Tonight in pro hoop, it was 2-0 for the road teams, 0-2 for games that were any fun at all to watch. I did warn you, didn't I?

In perhaps the most amazing stat of the season so far, road teams have now won as many games in the playoffs as home teams, and while I suspect that won't continue in the later rounds, it's still something that has never happened before, so, um, that's something. Maybe it's because the refs aren't deferring very much any more, or that three pointers are just crowd-agnostic.

In the DC-Indy start, it was a game of runs... that wasn't as exciting as that sounds, because the DC runs mostly came when their starters were in the game, and the Indy runs never felt, well, like they were going to stick. Roy Hibbert becomes the first All-Star with multiple 0/0 games in the same playoff season, the DC back court dominated, and Trevor Ariza is still having the best month of his career, at least on an individual level. Paul George went 4 for 17, Frank Vogel looks like he'd welcome termination, and that was just game one. David West shaking his head about Hibbert is going to be an Internet meme. This isn't going to get any prettier for Indy, and the biggest question now about the Wiz is whether they can actually go to the Finals. They are the only team in the East that a neutral observer can be excited about, and yes, that's the biggest reason ever for the playoffs to be re-seeded. But why change things when you've got the same problem every year?

In the LAC-OKC nightcap, Chris Paul turned on Best Guard In The World Mode, making 8 3-pointers, staking the Clips to a big early lead, and they went wire to wire. OKC's Russell Westbrook pouted it up, the Thunder never recovered, and their crowd was melting away by the third quarter. I'm holding out hope that this was just an off night and we'll get a decent series out of this, but man alive, this was nap-worthy. If you didn't know any better, you'd think this was a mid-week game in February, and one of the teams was coming off a 3 games in 4 nights schedule buggering. And here's the thing about wire to wire wins where the margin never shrinks under double digits: they are as dull as paste to watch. I love these teams and I love hoop, and I confess, I was reading social media during the last 45 minutes of this game. Maybe the Clips ease off in Game 2 and allow a series to happen, and maybe the Thunder react badly to getting their heads kicked in, but there was nothing about this game that was, well, compelling. Assuming you aren't just ready to watch the Clippers become the unlikeliest feel-good story of the year.

Tomorrow, we get the Heat and Nets teaching America that all of that hype about how the first round was the best thing ever was all just nonsense. Then the Spurs and Blazers will play something approaching watchable to half or less of the viewers, but most people will ignore it because The Spurs Are Boring, and who wants to stay up late on a work night? All while more people who aren't hoops junkies pay more attention, and tell us the games aren't any fun. Adam Silver, seriously, don't let the first round be the best round again next year...

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