Every time around this year, the playoffs are beginning for both hockey and basketball, where many fans will be expecting to see the games ramp up and actually mean something.
NBA fans might have to wait a little longer.
While some of these match-ups might have some excitement to offer, the majority of them that matter are just minor roadblocks for the superior team. The Western Conference, to be specific, contains most of these match-ups. We’ve seen already in just one game from the Golden State–Houston and Oklahoma City–Dallas series that the outcome of these series will be completely one-sided.
Houston and Golden State is a rematch of last year’s Western Conference finals, one that was fairly close in the beginning of the series, but that feels like the distant past now. The Warriors are better than ever this season, recently breaking the all time record for wins in a season (73). The Rockets, on the other hand, have fired their coach and generally show no real interest in playing basketball, especially defense. The score at the end of the first half of Game One was 60-33.
Some thought the Oklahoma City–Dallas series might be more intriguing. Dallas was projected to finish near the bottom of the standings at the beginning of the year and found a way to sneak into the playoffs with a couple games to go. It’s a nice story and all, but then they ran into Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant and lost the first game by 38 points.
Memphis and San Antonio may be the worst of these matchups. Memphis has had 28 different players play for their team this year, an NBA record. This has occurred because of injuries, trades or whatever other reasons.
They are going against the Spurs who quietly also had one of the greatest seasons ever, only to be trumped by Golden State. I would not be surprised if they rested their starters for this entire series.
To be fair, the Eastern Conference does have some interesting match-ups. Toronto–Indiana, Boston–Atlanta and Miami–Charlotte will offer some exciting games, but the odds of any of those teams actually contending are slim.
So I say to the casual NBA fan, just be patient until the second round. This will offer more likely than not two prime match-ups with Golden State–LA Clippers and San Antonio–Oklahoma City. This is when the playoffs will really begin.