Basketball fans got what they wanted with an NBA Finals rematch between LeBron James' Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors, but the road to get there was mostly a snore. As Dan Feldman of ProBasketballTalk broke down on Friday, the NBA Playoffs so far have been historically lopsided.
Cavs-Warriors was not only a foregone conclusion, but their dominance through the first three rounds contributed to the fewest pre-Finals games since the NBA expanded the first round to seven games. And by average win margin, it also ranked among the least competitive playoffs ever.
Part of that, one could argue, is due to Kevin Durant joining the Warriors. In doing so, he depleted the Oklahoma City Thunder, who were one of the league's best teams, and consolidated power on the Warriors. They have four stars between Durant, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green when a lot of teams around the NBA have zero.
Durant shouldn't be blamed for all of it, of course. James joining the Cavs and teaming up with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love had its domino effect. And a lot of teams just plain stink.
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Durant issued a strong defense of himself in that regard. He thinks it's unwarranted to say he's the biggest reason. Here is what he told USA Today Sports:
“Like I'm the reason why (expletive) Orlando couldn't make the playoffs for five, six years in a row?” he said. “Am I the reason that Brooklyn gave all their picks to Boston? Like, am I the reason that they're not that good (laughs)? I can't play for every team, so the truth of the matter is I left one team. It's one more team that you probably would've thought would've been a contender. One more team. I couldn't have made the (entire) East better. I couldn't have made everybody (else) in the West better.”
He's right about the Magic and Nets. Yikes, are they terrible. But him leaving OKC did remove one of the best potential matchups in the NBA Playoffs. Their seven-game series against the Warriors last summer was a memorable one and we'll never see it again.
Whether Durant is to blame or not, the playoffs have been anything but great. Ironically, the Wizards' two series against the Hawks and Celtics were probably the best, or at least the most eventful.
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