The cruel reality of NBA playoff basketball


The Toronto Raptors were one of the best teams during the 2017-18 regular season. Their head coach won Coach of Year, guided the team to more wins than any other past Raptors team, and claimed the Eastern Conference’s number one playoff seed.

Dwane Casey was fired after the Raptors lost in the second round of the playoffs to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Playoff NBA Basketball doesn’t care about regular season achievements.

Nope. NBA Playoff Basketball saves its affection for the winner of a seven-game series. Win 4 out of 7 for the first set of games, get ready for the next set of 7 games until finally, a champion is crowned. Never mind that the previous 82 games were just rendered useless by this small sample size of games. The math behind this just doesn’t seem fair.

Wouldn’t the more prudent way of determining a champion involve keeping the larger sample size of games? Isn’t playing better over a longer period of time superior? A team’s success would depend on multiple player rotations or bench depth versus short rotations reliant on one player. The sum of the parts… But for some reason in American sports, we place more value in a short sample of size games – the season after the season – the postseason, where failure brings harsh judgment. Does anyone have fond memories of the Warriors’ regular-season record-setting year? Okay, so maybe Cleveland fans do, but only because of the postseason triumph over the Warriors.

This year’s version of the Toronto Raptors was supposed to break through the wall LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers built around the Eastern Conference title. Dwane Casey installed a new offense, shedding the isolation ways of DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry for better ball movement and shot selection. The Raptors also possessed a deep bench, offering the flexibility of multiple lineup combinations that should, at least in theory, bring solutions to problems opposing teams brought.

Ah…but NBA Playoff Basketball doesn’t care about bench depth or ball movement. It loves superstars playing the prerequisite iso-ball, and the lone superstar in the Eastern Conference played for the other team.

Judgment was harsh.

Categories: NBA

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