Liotta: Watching blowouts in the playoffs a waste of time 

The NBA has a problem.

In years past, the basketball fan could shrug off a boring, effortless regular-season game between forgettable teams in the dead of winter, citing an endless schedule and ridiculous travel, and remind themselves that the playoffs would feature some high-intensity hoops.

Unfortunately, this year, the playoffs leading up to the Boston Celtics-Orlando Magic and Los Angeles Lakers-Phoenix Suns failed to live up to the “high-intensity” billing.

In fact, in the 12 series, featuring 63 first- and second-round games, there were more games decided by 20 points or more (10) than three points or less (8). There’s no excuse for a 43-point blowout in Game 1 of the second-round series between the Magic and Atlanta Hawks.

And you can’t tell me the Cleveland Cavaliers beating the Celtics by 29 points in Game 3 followed by the Celtics beating the Cavs by 32 in Game 5 saw 48-minute efforts from both teams. How about the Oklahoma City Thunder beating the Lakers by 21 only to lose by 24 a couple of nights later?

Where did the fight go? The fight until the final horn, I mean. When did surrendering become a strategy?

Other than the San Antonio Spurs eliminating the Dallas Mavericks, there really wasn’t a captivating series either. In fact, six of the 12 first- and second-round, best-of-seven series were sweeps or finished in five games. That’s not competition. That’s a waste of time and energy.

If NBA players are simply going to go through the motions during the first two rounds of the playoffs, then leave the postseason to the four best teams, and let them fight it out in two conference finals and a championship final.    

Random thoughts

- If you like tennis, there is nothing more interesting nor informative than listening to John McEnroe and Ted Robinson talk tennis during French Open matches. And it doesn’t matter who is playing. McEnroe is smart, still overly opinionated, and can be very funny. He’s an encyclopedia of tennis tactics, insight and information, and Robinson is the perfect complement, steering McEnroe from one interesting subject to another.

- Now that the Blackhawks are in the Stanley Cup finals, and everybody is talking about the 49-year championship drought since they won the Cup in 1961, I want to point out that the most overlooked drought in sports is the Giants’ lack of a championship since moving to the Bay Area. Sure, they’re overshadowed by the Cubs’ streak, but at least the Cubbies have won World Series titles for Chicago, albeit back in 1907 and 1908. The Giants are 0-for-San Francisco, and going on 56 years since they won a World Series for New York in 1954.

Tim Liotta is a freelance journalist and regular contributor to The Examiner. E-mail him at tliotta@sfexaminer.com.

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