Sep. 11, 2020
I'm more intrigued by this year's NBA Playoffs than I have been in a long time; Here's why.
In recent years, I have been less and less excited by the NBA Playoffs and the ensuing NBA Finals. There have been multiple reasons for my lack of interest ranging from half the league trying to tank to superteams to unexciting first and even second rounds and many other reasons that fail to come to mind at the moment. I have started to turn my interest to this season and now have started to become a big fan of this season's playoffs.
For starters, there finally have been upsets in the playoffs! In the usual year, we see the top teams steamroll through the playoffs until they are either in the Conference Finals or the NBA Finals. This year we already saw the top-seeded team in the East go down in the Milwaukee Bucks and are likely to see the second-best record in the East go down in the second round as well in the Toronto Raptors. Nobody could have predicted a Miami Heat vs Boston Celtics Eastern Conference Final and based on what I'm watching, both teams are more than capable of winning the NBA Finals Championship.
Aside from that, we don't have any superteams this year. In the past five years, the Golden State Warriors would suffocate the competition. The Warriors won three Championships and could have won five if they didn't suffer key injuries against Toronto or collapse against the Cavaliers (or LeBron had one of the best three-game stints in NBA history).
Now we have the best teams displaying great duos of all-stars and a bunch of solid contributors. The Lakers and Clippers are good but we see that they aren't blowing away the competition and it's possible that either one can lose their series vs their opponents. At this point, I would say that the Lakers are the best team, but for the first time, the best team isn't the heavy favorite to win it all.
Another element of the playoffs this year has been all the close games that come down to the final seconds. Usually, the best teams not only sweep their opponents but have few close games as they are clearly the better team.
This year, the difference between advancing in the playoffs and going home can be determined by the defense of James Harden (go figure).
I don't know if I would say that the NBA Playoffs are more exciting than the Stanley Cup Playoffs but I am becoming more interested in the NBA. The way that they have been able to manage the bubble and the way Adam Silver has been able to master the responsibility of being the commissioner makes watching the game all the better.
The most exciting season for me as a fan was the 2015-2016 season, the one when the Warriors won 73 games and before they signed Kevin Durant and lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers in 7 games (with game seven being one the greatest games the sport has seen). While this season isn't as great as that one, the playoffs have certainly been more than thrilling.