NBA season moving at a furious pace
The NBA regular season is not even halfway concluded and already it has been one of the most exciting ones in recent memory due to its frantic nature.
In just the past week, the reigning scoring champion and finals MVP squared off and the Lob City Clippers played a nationally televised game, which is once more than all of last year. The Durant-Nowitzki matchup was already compelling to begin with, but considering that their teams have already played three times, it adds more juice. Even though the quality of play has been noticeably down this year, the constant pace of the season more than makes up for that deficiency.
From a selfish standpoint, the reduced 66-game schedule makes each night all the more exciting. Sure, the players aren’t enjoying playing four games in five nights per week, but watching the maestros like Kobe Bryant play on a consistent basis is worth the drop in quality. Or is it?
Kevin Durant and his Oklahoma City Thunder are proving this to a tee. As of Super Bowl Sunday they rank third in the league with the team scoring exactly 100 points a game. Last season, that figure would have them finishing 12th in that category.
Not only that, but for every 100-97 Memphis-Denver clash, there’s the disaster of a 74-69 Philly-Orlando bricklaying. The drop in scoring is a great testament to the rough situation many teams were put in as the year started. The teams with a heavy roster turnover were put in an impossible position of two weeks of training camp and two preseason games to “mesh” and figure out how to play with one another. That’s impossible to accomplish on any scale, let alone in a pro sport.
The Christmas Day start certainly gave the league a head start in regaining fan money and time after the lockout nearly ruined the entire season. Desperation was at such a maximum for the game to be back that the ratings have shot up greatly despite the product not being where it should be. If Big Macs were taken out of McDonald’s for an extended period of time then reintroduced in prime fashion, even if they weren’t the quality people had grown accustomed to, they’d still sell in great numbers due to the “absence makes the heart grow fonder” theory.
It has been proven that name brands sell better than anything else the league can offer. Even if Derrick Rose isn’t playing at his top form, suiting up will make people watch because of his name becoming synonymous with excellence. Just last week when the Bulls and Knicks played, the game itself was worth watching. The Knicks’ 8-14 record surely didn’t justify the TNT appearance, but it made the game much more notable than the 8-13 Golden State Warriors.
One thing that has made up for the letdown in play is that now all games are much more important due to the reduced schedule. The Thunder-Mavericks games mentioned earlier have much more value for playoff seeding given the lowered opportunity for teams to separate themselves from one another. A single five game losing streak can wreck a teams’ season in a flash. A complaint often lobbied against the NBA is that the players don’t give it their all in every game. Most seasons that would be true, but certainly not in this one.
The game will most likely improve as the year goes on, but unfortunately for now the 11-12 season is stuck in third gear. It becomes awfully tough to complain though, when the Lakers and Thunder have multiple appearances on national TV this upcoming week. While it may not be what we’re used to seeing, I know I’ll certainly still be watching.