NBA Playoffs So Far is Basketball Not Worth Watching: Hutton

Phoenix Suns' Devin Booker (1) reacts during the first half in Game Seven of the 2022 NBA Playoffs Western Conference Semifinals against the Dallas Mavericks at Footprint Center on May 15, 2022, in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Getty Images)

I did it. I’m here to confess. 

I broke my personal rule of devoting time to the NBA playoffs prior to start of the league’s Conference Finals. I’ve long found the opening rounds lacking the excitement of my childhood-to-college era of the 90s and early 00s, even when I knew the Bulls or the Lakers were expected to cruise. I liked those stars and wanted to watch them perform, even when they advanced through early rounds without much drama or doubt about who the better team was for that week and half. 

No, not this league, even with the excellent Golden State/Memphis matchup we witnessed. And with the LeBron-less playoffs, which made things more about basketball. 

I thought… “Hey, here’s young superstar Ja Morant against the recent superstar team, still with Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. This is worth my time.” And it was fun for about three total games. Hard fought, physical, with players and coaches bitching out officials and calling out the opposite bench. That was worth some time investment, pre-Conference Finals. Well, that and the fact we weren’t trying to figure out out which book LeBron James was holding in his press conference, turned to page 2, of course.

The problem was I continued to watch that series past Game 3, and paid attention to the rest of the “best” the NBA has to offer right now. 

The NBA for the casual fan — to this point in the postseason — was basketball not worth watching.

  • 19 of 69 NBA playoff games have been decided by 20 or more points. 
  • 35 games were decided by 10 or more points. 
  • The great games decided by 3 points or less? The games where you text your friends to flip over to the network so you won’t miss something spectacular? Yeah… only 13 of 69 games were worthy of that text.  

We all know this part: Three point shots, more than ever, are the name of the game. In their closeout win Sunday, Boston made 22 threes. Golden State made 20 against Memphis in their closeout victory Friday night, and Dallas drilled Phoenix with 19 Sunday night. 

Those close, competitive games filled with down-to-wire action is hard to find this early in the 2022 postseason. 

  • Last week Memphis led Golden State by 55 points in the third quarter. 
  • Four of the seven games in the Boston/Milwaukee series were won by at least 10 points.
  • The closest spread in the Dallas/Phoenix series was 7 points ,and that came in Game 1. 

After Game 1 the margin of victory was 20, 9, 10, 30, 27, and 33.

Outside of the Grizzlies, a team who somehow played several entertaining games despite trailing by more than 20 a couple of times in the Minnesota series, not much in this postseason has been worth watching. 

Those Memphis games were fascinating, not because it was good basketball, but because they made frantic comebacks when their opponent collapsed.

This is why I’m normally just now getting around to devoting time to the NBA. It’s about a one month window for me. The NBA grabs my attention mid-May to early-to-mid June. That’s it. I won’t make the same mistake again. 

Oh, the Association wins, by the way. They laugh at columns like mine because they have fans and lapdog media members who will prop up the close games to begin the playoffs, or look the other way when Adam Silver’s league contradicts itself.

I laugh at LeBron, but he made more money than any athlete on the planet last year when endorsement money is included.

And speaking of money — the NBA will highlight any local issue for noble spotlight — like moving the All-Star game out of Charlotte over an LGBTQ bathroom law. But when it comes to cashing checks from one of the richest countries in the world, the league looks to the bank, finalizing a contract last week with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for 2022 preseason games. The same UAE where same-sex relationships are illegal and punishable.

The NBA isn’t the only professional sports league to travel to UAE and take their millions and set up shop. It’s just how two-faced and contradicting the NBA is that takes them to the next level. Well, that and the way the national media looks the other way on their behalf. 

“Hey! Look, over there! Phil Mickelson!” 

At my core, though, I will watch good basketball. I’m a sports fan wanting to be entertained by the sports I love(d). 

Here’s hoping the Conference Finals present a product worth watching. 

The players involved in these two conference series can put on a show. I’m all for the games being entertaining, fun, and hopefully we are better off for having watched.

Now THAT would be a different feeling at the end of a long NBA season. 

*****
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Written by Jonathan Hutton

Jonathan Hutton hosts OutKick 360 each weekday afternoon. He spent 16 seasons as the gameday host and sideline reporter for the Tennessee Titans Radio Network and covered the biggest NFL events. Follow @HuttonOutKick on Twitter/Instagram.

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