For as exciting and wild as the NHL’s second round of the playoffs has been, the NBA’s second round has been…well, not.
In the West, the two matchups have been absolute duds, with the Warriors and Rockets holding commanding 3-1 leads over the upstart Pelicans and Jazz. In the East, the games have been more entertaining, with wild finishes in two of the three games in each series, but Cleveland and Boston have all but wrapped up their trips to the Conference Final with 3-0 leads over the Raptors and 76ers.
Yes, the Warriors, Rockets, and LeBrons are entertaining to watch on a nightly basis, and it has been mildly amusing to see The Process thwarted by the youths pooping their pants in big situations, but it’s been hard to watch or get overly invested in because regardless of how we got there, these are the four teams that literally everyone picked to get to this point. Everyone knew that it was always going to be the Rockets, Warriors, Celtics, and Cavaliers.
I’ll confess, I’ve watched about 10 minutes combined of the two Western Conference showdowns, because really, despite Anthony Davis and Donovan Mitchell, did anyone really expect them to put up much of a fight to the two teams who are so head-and-shoulders above everyone else? No.
The East you could at least talk yourself into the upstart 76ers pushing the Celtics to the brinks due to injuries, but that hasn’t happened at all.
And the Raptors.
Oh the poor, poor Raptors. This was the only “outsider” team that people thought had a chance to make noise and upset the party of all the expected teams. And then they went out and had their hearts ripped out by LeBron twice, got just crushed on their home floor in Game 2, and now may as well start planning their vacations. Yes, you could have a very real argument that the series should be 2-1 for Cleveland based on a badly missed call in Game 1, but here we are. Don’t forget the Raptors also folded in that game. Then expended everything they had in Game 3…only to watch LeBron hit a stupid-hard bank runner for a 3-0 lead.
I’ve written it before, but the NBA Playoffs always feel inevitable, and that’s part of why this round has been so tough to watch, outside of LeBron willing himself and 11 orange road cones into another NBA Finals (let’s be real, they’re going to wallop the Celtics). Seriously, go read that piece I linked to earlier in this paragraph. I could have copied it over word-for-word and it would still be 90% true today, with the only change needed being taking out the Spurs references.
They say the NBA Playoffs don’t start until the conference finals, but even that feels only half-true. Yes, Warriors-Rockets will probably be seven games of madness with each game coming down to the wire and just insane shooting all around, but the East just feels like it’s LeBron doing LeBron stuff until we all tune in to see if he can shock the world again by upsetting the Warriors or Rockets.
So yes, the games have been entertaining, but when you take a step back and look at them as a whole, it stinks, because this is what we all knew was coming, it just took a slightly different road to get here.