We need to talk about the brand new sports season that just tipped off this week.
I’m talking about the NBA Playoffs.
Now you might be thinking to yourself, George, the NBA Playoffs aren’t a new sports season. Basketball has been going on since October.
Not this kind of basketball.
Now more than ever, the NBA’s regular season, and the NBA Playoffs are two completely different sports.
Do you think Tyler Herro is diving for loose balls in the regular season? Hell no. And now he’s not diving for anything because he broke his damn hand.
Do you think Anthony Davis is putting his glass bones and spaghetti ligaments in harm’s way to take a charge from Ja Morant in the regular season? Absolutely not. And as a Lakers fan I’d appreciate it if he didn’t do that again.
Ja Morant is lucky to only have a soft tissue bruise.
Do you think that Devin Booker and and Kawhi Leonard are rolling around on the floor trying to pick each other’s pockets in the third quarter of a game in November?
The playoffs are a different beast, but because of that, you have teams struggling to adjust to the differences in lineups, effort, physicality, and especially the way the games are officiated.
I hate to always be the one bagging on James Harden, but he scored eight points in game 2 of the Sixers first round matchup with the Nets. EIGHT. And the reason is because he isn’t able to depend on the ticky tack fouls he draws in the regular season.
Get this- James Harden has gone three consecutive playoff games without even attempting a free throw. James Harden is tied for twelfth IN THE HISTORY OF THE NBA in free throws attempted per game, and he hasn’t shot a free throw in his last three playoff games.
And it’s not just James Harden that is affected by the officiating changes. In the 2021-2022 regular season, Giannis Antetokounmpo was called for 48 offensive fouls in 67 games. In last years playoffs he was called for 21 in just 12 games. That’s more than double his regular season per game average!
The teams that win in the playoffs are the ones that aren’t having to shift their style to fit a completely different game. It’s the reason Kobe found success after Shaq. It’s the reason the San Antonio Spurs had over a decade of sustained success. It’s the reason Dwyane Wade’s physicality in the regular season resulted in three championships and five appearances. And it’s the reason that no matter how much of a headache he can be, the Warriors have never moved on from Draymond Green.
The only way you’re winning an NBA championship in 2023 is if you have the versatility to be a two-sport star. Regular season basketball and playoff basketball.
Let that sink in.