March Madness seems like ages ago, and it did not leave all that many enduring memories. Well at least for those outside of Connecticut.
While the NCAA basketball tournament is full of ups and downs, upsets and buzzer beaters, it is over in a flash. Three weekends of a basketball binge … and it’s gone. One team celebrates while 67 others just go home. It’s so impossible to predict that even a $1 billion bracket bet was over the first week.
Now the real tournament, the NBA Playoffs, is upon us.
In college, teams are on a tightrope. One slip and you fall off and disappear. In the NBA, each playoff round can have more games than a team will play in winning the Final Four. And you need to win four rounds to be the champ. That’s 16 wins, a possible 28 games over two months. Now that’s a tournament!
As we start the playoff,s the early rounds have already generated tremendous excitement. There are plenty of buzzer beaters, and upsets. The big difference is that a loss isn’t fatal. It only raises the temperature.
What makes the NBA Playoffs so compelling is the very fact that it’s so hard to win a series. In the early rounds the teams facing each other are division or conference competitors. That means that they have already played each other three or four times (not counting preseason matchups), have scouted each other a hundred times, and know everything about each other.
There are no secrets, no special plays, and little preparation time. You don’t have a week between games. And players who were friends before the playoffs started are rarely friends afterward.
Each round is a war.