A day after two thrilling Game 7s in the NHL, the San Antonio Spurs defeated the Houston Rockets to move onto the conference finals. Yet the Spurs winning the series wasn’t at all surprising, NBA fans expect the Spurs to win playoff games and have a deep playoff run. But it raises the question as to whether the NBA playoffs have become predictable.
The main argument to the playoffs predictability is that for the past three years both the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers have dominated in the playoffs usually sweeping their opponents. And the last two years the NBA finals have come down to the Warriors or Cavs, so really how exciting can it be watching the same two teams play each other every year and possibly just exchange the trophy each year? Yeah not so much.
It’s disappointing because the first round had some pretty exciting series, the most notable being the Toronto Raptors against the Milwaukee Bucks. This series was exciting because the Bucks hadn’t been in the playoffs in a long time and were actually able to push the series to a Game 7 (the best two words in sports). The Bucks then kept their foot on the gas pedal and brought the game down to the final seconds, since then there hasn’t been any notable moments that dominate the headlines and have fans sharing highlights thus keeping the NBA buzz going.
While there once was a time when the NBA was dominated by two teams, the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics (aka the Magic Bird era), but back then the NBA was king of professional sports. Now the NBA has to compete with the National Hockey League who also has their playoffs starting in mid April.
And what hurts the NBA even more this year is that the NHL has had some notable moments like the top ranked Chicago Blackhawks getting swept by the eighth seeded Nashville Predators, the Edmonton Oilers made the playoffs for the first time since 2006, and the Toronto Maple Leafs finally made it to the playoffs. Even though the Washington Capitals have struggled to make it out of the second round of the playoffs, their series against the Pittsburgh Penguins was gripping from the beginning of game one until the final horn in game seven.
There’s no telling how the NBA could possibly get off this predictability train because it’s out of the leagues hands. It’s the responsibility of each team to put together a championship caliber team and it seems like teams are failing to find the right pieces. So until the teams figure out either how to beat the Cavs and the Warriors it looks like the NBA finals will be always be a showdown between Steph Curry and LeBron James.