The NBA Playoffs are parked across the street, and it’s time to get ready for the highest level of basketball at its purest form.
There’s just something about this time of the year that brings out the best in players.
Last season, Jimmy Butler decided to drop a 40-piece in game three of the NBA Finals and followed that up with 35 in game five. Or what about Luka’s step-back three-pointer to shock and tie the first-round series with the Clippers. Hopping back to 2019, Damian Lillard literally shot close to half court to eliminate Russell Westbrook and the Thunder.
That was a long way of saying the players actually try their hardest come playoff time. No one said they don’t “try” during the regular season. But a casual fan could probably notice the difference in the effort level of the players.
And while this concept likely applies to all sports, it feels most relevant in basketball.
In hoops laziness can usually slide a talented team into the playoffs.
This is why the addition of the play-in tournament has actually made the end of the regular season fun to watch again. Teams like the Warriors, Lakers, and Blazers have had to turn up the Scoville level a lot sooner than they likely would have in previous seasons.
Circling back, some facets of regular-season basketball include bad shot selection, lack of effort, and bad defense until the 4th quarter. Come playoff time, all this crap goes away.
Players really give it everything they have, and it’s delightful to watch. The games are fast, exhilarating, and competitive all in one. And it also allows fans to see the adjustments their coaches make throughout a potential seven-game series.
For what it’s worth, with the exception of the World Cup, the NBA Playoffs are the most captivating tournament in the world.
For approximately two months, there will be phenomenal basketball on TV, which is something to be extremely grateful for.
And this season, in particular, should prove more intriguing than usual. Will LeBron James defend his title from the No. 7 seed, are the Clippers for real, and could Stephen Curry possibly make a run past the first-round?
Not to mention the upstart Suns, No.1 seeded Jazz, and the lighting bolt that is D-Lil.
And that’s just the Western Conference!
This year, the East may be equally fascinating with teams such as Brooklyn, Philadelphia, and Milwaukee. Not to mention that the Knicks are good for the first time since before Spike Lee was Born.
Both conferences are truly up in the air, which should create compelling action throughout the entirety of the postseason. This is a wolf howl away from the days where it was a virtual lock that Cleveland and Golden State would meet in the Finals.
If the season ended at this moment (I wrote this on Thursday), some of the first-round matchups would include the Bucks vs. the Knicks, Blazers vs., Nuggets, and a rematch of the Clippers and Mavericks. This doesn’t even include the play-in tournament.
This year’s gonna be something, man. And while playoff basketball during the summer is certainly unusual, it’s absolutely terrific.
So get ready because next week, this time, the play-in tournament will be underway, and Steph may have already dropped 100 points in two games.