If you have ever listened to my podcast, read one of my articles or watched my show, you’re probably aware of my thoughts on the NBA. And if you haven’t done any of those things, then what’s your deal? For the most part, for a lack of a more eloquent term, I think the NBA is stupid. But today is a new day and today my thoughts have changed. What I’ve realized is that… JUST KIDDING!
The NBA is even dumber than I ever thought it was. Allow me to explain. If you’ve been watching any of the NBA playoffs, you’ve probably heard Lebron’s name come up a time or two and you’ve probably heard it in phrases like this, “holy Buggs Bunny that dude is a MonSTAR,” and “wowzers that dunk should be put in the JR Smithsonian,” and “RIP Serge Ibaka.” If you haven’t been hearing things like that, then hang around cooler people, but the point is Lebron has been Lebron and the Cavs have dominated the playoffs thus far going 8-0.
You may be thinking, “duh, we know this bro, when are you gonna throw some real knowledge at me?” Ok first of all, I’m not your bro so stop talking to me like that and second of all, I’m getting there, bro. So why is the above information important? BECAUSE the Cavs weren’t supposed to be this good. Before the playoffs, Fivethirtyeight.com projected the Cavs as the team with the ninth best chance to win the title, only a 59% chance of making the conference semi-finals (they swept the Pacers to get there) and only a 27% chance to make the conference finals (they swept the Raptors to get there). Does this team who has steamrolled through the Eastern Conference thus far like a starving lion steamrolling through a giant pack of newborn puppies look like the team with the ninth best chance to win the title? (Sorry I used such a gross analogy and also, RIP all those puppies). Does this team which has pummeled it’s conference semi-final opponent to a four game sweep, like Drederick Tatum pummeled Homer Simpson in the greatest boxing match of this century, look like a team who was only given a 27% chance to make the conference finals? Of course they don’t!
You might be thinking, “Well Ethan, projections are wrong all the time, it’s no big deal, just look at the election.” First of all, this isn’t about politics so stop bringing that up, and second of all, projections are wrong all the time, you’re right, but not for the same reason these are. These projections are based on individual player stats, previous year’s team stats and of course what would seem to be the most valuable information for projecting a team’s playoff chances, how the team played in the regular season. What the computer failed to recognize is the regular season Cleveland Cavaliers cared as much about the NBA regular season as say, oh I don’t know, about as much as I cared about the NBA regular season.
Before a late season clash with the Celtics, Lebron said, “I’ve been to six straight Finals. I’m the last person to ask about a regular season game.” In other words, to bring up another quote you may have heard before, “we talking about practice.” That is of course all the regular season is, a glorified practice which runs fans a good $70 a ticket. The Cavs didn’t play well in the regular season because they didn’t need to and they didn’t make a push for the number one seed because they didn’t feel like it was worth the greater effort. And please don’t take this as me dogging the Cavs, they still live in Cleveland so they’ve suffered enough, on the contrary, I commend the Cavs for resting and putting in just enough effort to earn a decent playoff seed and set themselves up for a deep postseason run.
As with every problem I have with the NBA, it always stems from a lack of competition causing the regular season to mean nothing and for that matter, the first few rounds of the postseason to mean nothing too. In the future I will certainly shed some light on how I think this problem might be fixed. But for now, I’m gonna go watch Lebron embarrass Serge Ibaka a few more times.
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