The NBA Playoffs are slowly going downhill, and honestly, it’s a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to quality. Despite the ratings boost early in the post-season, some of these games are still hard to watch. Injuries to the stars and the lack of time off between games have some people thinking that maybe it’s time to reformat the NBA knockouts.
Admittedly I’ve been a critic of how the NBA can feel post-season. Many of you have felt this way at one point or another, especially during the four-year run where Golden State and Cleveland were favorites to make it to the Finals each year and have applied. experience that prophecy. Now we have Equaland we are still not satisfied.
How can the NBA make its most consequential games easier to watch?
There’s been talk of reformatting the NBA’s fixture list for years now, but that often involves shortening the regular season. I have no problem with the league eliminating 10 to 16 games from the 82-game season. Since talking about a mid-season tournament continues to heat up, the association is probably headed in that direction.
But I would also suggest reducing post-season games and giving players more rest. The injuries we have seen this year have affected the quality of the product. I don’t think there’s any question about that. The Eastern Conference Finals are a great example of this. The Miami Heat and Boston Celtics are dealing with injuries to key players and those in the squad.
Tyler Herro has missed a few games in this series, and Kyle Lowry has featured in just eight of the team’s 16 playoffs so far, dealing with a hamstring injury. Jimmy Butler is dealing with knee inflammation and plays more like James Butler than Jimmy bucket in the previous two and a half games against Boston.
As for the Celtics, Marcus Smart (ankle) and Robert Williams III (knee) combined to miss three games against the Heat. Jayson Tatum is facing a shoulder injury, which has clearly affected his play, although he hit a nearly doubled double with 22 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists. But he didn’t shoot the ball effectively, and clearly his shoulder was a factor.
Too many stars and key players have suffered injuries in these play-offs. Smart, Williams, Butler, Luka Dončić, Devin Booker, Khris Middleton and Joel Embiid either missed early matches in the knockout stages or suffered injuries that affected moving forward. The lack of time off between games is one of the leading causes of injury, reducing the product we see.
The first round should be shorter
The removal of games from the league after the season should definitely be on the table for the NBA. The first round need not be seven games. Going back to five games in the first round isn’t the worst thing in the world. We’ll get the series’ shorter but at the same time more urgent. It sometimes feels like a player/team self-paced in a seven-game streak, knowing they have time to make up for a few losses. If a team leads 2-1 out of the top 5, now game 4 is really a must-win. No one wants to lose 3-1, but we know that a comeback isn’t impossible when you have seven games left.
More time between matches in later rounds is another aspect that can help in terms of match quality. Performing at the top level every other night isn’t easy and we’re seeing it right in front of our eyes in this knockout. We’ve seen some of the strongest teams in the league suffer heavy losses.
In game 3 of the Warriors’ semi-final series, Golden State took out the Grizzlies, losing by 30 points. But Steph and company will likely win the Finals after that defeat. The Phoenix Suns were attacked by the Dallas Mavericks in the same round, losing their 7th game at home by 33 points. The Suns also lost Game 6 in Dallas with 27. Two of the five games in the Heat-Celtics series have won 20 points or more.
Even if the league had an extra day or two off during the conference finals and NBA finals, that would help. Yes, these players are the best at what they do, but even then they need a break. Obviously, a day between matches is not enough, especially after a long and intense season. We continue to discuss players and load management, but this should tell us something.
Everyone wants to see the best production possible at the most important moment of the season. Returning to a shorter first round and adding days off in later rounds will further increase the efficiency of the players on the field. The 1980s and 90s were the best years of the first series, so it can be done. And the extra rest days later in the knockout stages still give the NBA the opportunity to collect more advertising dollars. Because we all know this is what it is.
Although I watched every Finals of the conference, it was not an easy task. As great as these players are, many of them look exhausted and defeatand obviously it affects the outcome of the game. Newer players should create more exciting, competitive games on the table. I’m not saying the NBA should add too many days off to a three-week series. But something as simple as adding an extra day in between switching places from game two to game three would be a great start. So instead of just having a travel day, teams will get a second day off before resuming play.
Fortunately, between the end of the game and the start of the NBA finals, there will be a few more days of recovery time. The team that starts from the east will need that rest before reaching the Finals. Hopefully the federation is finding a way to give the players more rest without dragging the season on too long.
The League could try this next season, similar to how they implemented the play a few years ago. Now, playing is the mainstay and most of us accept that it’s not going anywhere. Players will likely be grateful for more recovery time between playoff matches when they need to be at their best.