These NBA Playoffs have disappointed me. Sure, there've been moments of greatness. Artest's follow-up. Artest's interview. Los Suns. Westbrook introducing himself to the world. Nash's battered face. But, overall, a lack of competitiveness marked the first three rounds of this tournament. The losing teams just didn't compete, most prominently exemplified by LeBron and his Cavs surrendering to Boston. The Playoffs are meant to avoid the type of mismatches we normally see in a random February contest featuring Utah and New Jersey. They're fun because they offer the highest level of competition, pitting only the really good teams against one another. And we just didn't get that in the first three rounds. The four losing teams in the Conference Semifinals combined for a total of two wins. The average margin of victory for the Orlando Magic in its second round series was 25 points. Neither the games nor the series were all that close.
The NBA Finals--or, at least, the initial three games of them--have suffered from a different problem. It's not so much that the losers have failed to compete as it is that the winners have failed to play their best. Let's take last night's Game 3 as an example. LA managed a pretty good 109 points per 100 possessions, but did it seem as if the team played well? Bad Kobe showed up, shooting 10-29 overall, including 1-7 from three. And it wasn't as if Kobe had good shots rim out. He was taking difficult, difficult shots, many of them out of the flow of the offense. Pau Gasol, one of the premier big men in the NBA, only attempted eleven shots. Seriously, who played well for the Lakers? Fisher and Odom. And Luke Walton? Is good performances from those three really enough to win an NBA Finals game? The same is true for Boston in its Game 2 victory. Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo had historically great games, but no one else really excelled, certainly not Pierce and Garnett.
This series so far seems preliminary. LA looks like it'll pull things off because how often will Ray Allen make eight three-balls in one game? But maybe Boston will win it because there's no way that Allen will fail to make a field goal again. Garnett followed up two awful games with a great one. Kobe and Gasol had each provided their least in Game 3--and LA still won. What will happen if both teams play well in the same game? I have no idea. But here's hoping we get to find out.