The NBA Playoffs this year have been a snoozefest. Almost every series has a blowout, injured superstar, health issues, referee-related complaints, and everything in between. So far, what is supposed to be the most exciting time of the year for basketball fans hasn’t lived up to its hype — and unfortunately, the statistics back this claim up.
Numbers don’t lie
The 2022 Playoffs are currently at the Conference Finals stage, and so far, there have already been 22 games where a team has won by 20+ points. The last 10 playoff games have been decided by an average margin of 17.6 points. To put this in context, there have been way more lopsided games this year compared to the past and could very much end with the most in the next few weeks.
Take the Eastern Conference Finals between the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics, for example. What was anticipated to be a grueling matchup between the best teams in the conference has been an exchange on who can blow each other out the most every game. It even reached a point where ABC’s NBA anchor Mike Breen mentioned “finally a close game!” numerous times in the broadcast in Game 5.
On the other side of the coast, the Golden State Warriors and Dallas Mavericks haven’t been more exciting, either. The Warriors won three of the past four games by nine points or more. According to StateMuse, the last time the playoffs had a final score within 5 points was during the second round between the Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks (110-107) in Game 5. It has been two weeks of one Playoff blowout after another.
Adam Silver has to do something
Luckily for the NBA, the Conference Finals viewership is trending up despite all the blowouts that have been happening over the past couple of weeks. However, even if this is the case, the basketball product displayed right now could be more enjoyable.
This has to start with Adam Silver, who can make it easier for the players by scheduling a day off or two for rest and recovery between the series. Who knows? Maybe that would help solve the injury issues, and fatigue players are experiencing.
Outside of Silver’s control, one can argue that the development of the league into a more offensive-minded approach has affected how these games are played. The infatuation with the 3-point line, the knack of getting to the free-throw line, and all the motion and hero-ball offense have to persuade more players to score instead of depending on the defense.
According to Celtics head coach Ime Udoka, one big reason why there have been so many blowout games this year is because of how teams love to score.
“A big part of it is scoring nowadays. Teams going on crazy runs, defense depending on the team is more of a luxury at times. It’s [defense] is not always a premium of every team so a lot of times its shootouts and it can get ugly pretty quickly,” Udoka said.
Ultimately, all the unbalanced games in the Playoffs this year have been impacted by controllable and uncontrollable factors. This is what the league is now, and hopefully, it doesn’t get any worst than this.