In the NBA playoffs, the better teams are battling each other. This is different from the regular season when on many nights great teams play bad ones.
Last year eventual champion Boston had a 2-0 series lead on Atlanta and was a road favorite in Game 3. Boston had won the first two games 104-81 and 96-77. Instead, the Hawks not only covered Game 3, but won, 102-93. Two years ago the Spurs had a 2-0 series lead on the Jazz and were a favorite in Game 3, but the Jazz flattened the Spurs in an upset, 109-93.
San Antonio won and covered by double digits the next two games to close out the series, the final game a 25-point rout. Overall, blowouts are less expected this time of the year.
Oddsmakers are anticipating that the majority of teams want to be here and will play all out for 48 minutes keeping things relatively close. The Celtics/Bulls first round series was a good example, with four games going into overtime and five decided by 3 points or less.
Playoff teams have some talent or star players, which also makes closer, more competitive games likely, especially as the playoffs move along.
The point is, don’t easily dismiss teams that get routed. If they have talent, are well coached, or have strong leadership, they can bounce back and look like a very different team the next game.
Another factor to consider is defense. Many teams that make the postseason know how to play defense and in a blowout loss, perhaps a team simply had a bad defensive game. After watching game films, adjustments are made and teams can look very different.
That happened in the Wizards/Cavaliers series last year. Cleveland won Game 2, 116-86, then Washington came home and took a must-win game by 36 points, 108-72. Had the tide turned? No, Cleveland won Game 4 as a road dog, 100-97.
The playoffs only increase competitive fire and passion with teams facing each other over and over again, making adjustments and revenge spots even more acute. Every dog can have his day in the NBA playoffs.
So be careful. One-sided blowouts can be very different the next encounter.
Question? Comment? E-mail me at: Jim Fiest