Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Editorial: Playoff time

The NBA Playoffs are firing on all cylinders

It is the most wonderful time of the year.

Wait, it is not Christmas, is it? No. Thanksgiving? Nope. Summer vacation? Nah. Hanukkah? Come on, now.

What is it, then? NBA Playoffs time, duh.

There is nothing better than two months of the highest quality of basketball on earth, not chocolate chip cookies, not free iPhones, not puppies, not even all of that stuff combined.

We are not even through the first round and there have been seven overtime games (and counting). The Oklahoma City-Memphis series saw three overtime games through its first four games. I will take that over some cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie.

College basketball junkies love to whine about the NBA and laud the college game over the pro game, saying, “They do not play defense in the NBA! They do not play hard! All they do is flop! They do not care that much!”

Even though none of that is very true in the regular season, there is absolutely no speck of truth in it during the playoffs. Playoff basketball is a different species from regular season basketball. The ball is the same. The players are the same, for the most part, as 16 of the 30 teams make the postseason. The rules are the same. But it’s still not the same, as counterintuitive as that sounds.

They do not play defense? Go turn on Memphis and watch the Grizzlies shut down two of the most talented scorers in the world, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.

They do not play hard? Is that why 14 of the first 26 games were decided by five points or less? The NCAA Tournament had 10 games decided by five or less during the first 32 games, by the way.

All they do is flop? How about when Josh McRoberts decked LeBron James with a forearm and got to stay in the game — was there any flop there? Nene Hilario grabbed Jimmy Butler around the head, with presumable anger in his heart, and Butler stood there with no fear in his eyes. Where was the flop?

They do not care that much? Just ignore that many of the top college players only play college ball as a pit stop to get to the NBA. Most normal people get mad when they lose a game of checkers. Imagine losing a best-of-seven playoff series while the whole world is watching. NBA players make tons of money, but they care about winning more than anything else.

None of this is to say college basketball is a pile of hot garbage. I am from North Carolina. College basketball runs through my blood as much as sweet tea and oxygen do. But it is not a better basketball product than the NBA, especially come playoff time.

The first round has already been basketball nirvana, what are the later rounds going to be like? We could be in store for an even better NBA Finals than last season, somehow.

There is nothing I am prepared to rule out. The alien clan from which LeBron James hails may abduct him mid-game of the Western Conference Finals, and I would not be surprised. In fact, I am almost expecting it.

So put down your chocolate chip cookies, iPhones and puppies and watch the NBA Playoffs, and enjoy the best time of the year without distraction.

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